Sometime before Christmas a map showing the proposed new boundaries was published which showed drastic changes in the Constituency boundaries. I called it gerrymandering at its worst, a blow to the democratic system.
I maintained, among other things, that gerrymandering made it impossible for people to get to know the candidates, or candidates to know the people. Furthermore, it leant itself to enabling votes to be “packed” into areas in order to sway an election.
Mr. Rick Lowe, in a response to my comments, suggested that had I, and others, supported the proposed Constitutional Amendment that proposed an “independent” boundaries commission to draw election boundaries, we would not have the problem of “gerrymandering.”
The proposed change that Mr. Lowe referred to was included in the FNM’s controversial referendum that was rejected by the Bahamian people.
I said that I had not supported the change because, among other things, it was an up or down vote … in other words, all or nothing.
He said I was wrong; it was an item-by-item vote. I told him I would check with the House of Assembly, which I did. He was right. It was an item-by-item vote. I was wrong. I apologize.
Whether or not it was an up-or-down vote, or, an item-by-item vote, is really irrelevant.
But let’s assume the Constitutional changes proposed in the Referendum had been accepted by the people of The Bahamas, and that there was an “independent” boundaries commission.
This, on the surface, sounds great. But may I be so pertinent as to ask who would appoint it? The Prime Minister? Would this not be reverting to whistling by the graveside?
Laws, especially changes in the Constitution, are made to last for a long time, and to apply to many people. If we had made such a change, could we predict that years from now a Prime Minister, he or she, would not appoint all of his/her friends or supporters to this so-called “independent” boundaries commission and claim it to be “independent?”
Sometimes laws are not sufficient to solve a problem. It reverts to the people. Politicians get into power by getting votes. If they believe doing something would lose them votes, they wouldn’t do it. Yes, the people can do something about it. If they insist on having time to know who is running in their district, they will be given time and, if they’re not given the time then the people should vote them out … whoever they are. Don’t worry; the message will quickly get through their thick skulls.
And what is democracy? Its all to do with making choices. And how does that happen? It’s the environment, the society in which we live. It involves the whole being. And this involves the family, the church, the schools, and the media.
The family is supposed to teach the child the “principles” of life; the church is supposed to teach the child the ethics of life, the rights and wrongs of life; the schools are supposed to teach their students how to think and the logic of making choices. All of these combined creates the “whole” person.
The rest of the job rests with the media. Having created the “whole person” the media takes over. Its job now is to present the facts … untwisted, un-spun facts … to the person who then has the job of looking at the facts and making choices. And that is the essence of democracy!!
And finally, the Government should see that nothing is put in the way of all this happening.
Have all or any of those institutions failed our people here in the Bahamas??
But, of course, in the absence of democracy we could have “mobocracy.” And that’s when you keep the people stupid, tell them what you want them to hear, throw a pom pom in their hands, throw in a goat skin drum for good measure, get them real emotional, then put a political tag around a dead dog’s neck and throw that their way and then tell them to be “democratic” and vote!!!
Folks, you make the choice. What category do you want us to fit into?
It’s sad, isnt it? We could have such a great little country.
By Pierre V.L. Dupuch
March 19, 2012