Remaining civil during the election
Passions are rising in anticipation of the general election. The parties are putting up posters and having mass rallies. Bahamians are ready to determine who will be the next Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
A hobby in The Bahamas around election time is crowd watching. Many people tune in to rallies or pick up newspapers just to see how many people attended events. Bahamians want to get a sense of who has the most momentum heading into voting day. People pay careful attention to who filled this park, or whose motorcade was the biggest.
Among the passionate base supporters of each party, this is serious business. Verbal “battles” emerge between rival sides when rallies are taking place over which party has or had the largest crowd. These arguments are accompanied by other odd arguments over momentum, such as which party’s flags are most visible on vehicles.
With a record 172,085 people registered to vote, clearly there is great interest in the outcome of this election. With all of this enthusiasm and interest we have kept up our tradition of non-violent elections – by non-violent we mean the absence of organized and widespread political violence.
With all the challenges we have had with crime and violence over the past few years, this is something we should be proud of. It was a pleasure over the weekend to witness, in various places, Bahamians losing their voices in robust arguments with friends over politics; each side calling the other a failure and a danger to the future of the country. Even after a few drinks, in some of these situations, the debates only got louder. None even remotely approached violence.
We should be proud of our political tradition of non-violent dissent and we must continue to teach our young people that we can disagree without violence. When you are tired of a government, a politician or a leader, vote against that person or group. You can also work to persuade others to vote against them.
This is the beauty of democracy. We can all have an opinion, struggle for our cause, but do so without seeking to physically harm others. We must remember that the members of our political class have close ties. The leader of the opposition and prime minister are former law partners and are close friends. The families of senior members of the Free National Movement (FNM) and senior members of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) intermarry. The children of our politicians attend the same elite private schools.
These close ties are good. We differ politically, but not to the extent of contempt and hatred. This election season we all should seek to remember that all sides care about The Bahamas. And we should commend all the men and women who offer themselves for service to the country.
Apr 16, 2012