The morning after the night before

Posted: December 19, 2007 in Bermuda, bermuda politics

Bermuda this morning reminds me of a marriage on the rocks. For weeks, the wife has been hurling abuse at her cheating, philandering husband who has also been milking the family finances to support his lifestyle. He too has been giving as good as he gets, claiming that his wife just doesn’t understand him anymore.

    So here they are at the kitchen table, eyeing each other up warily after another blazing row. They know they have to try and make up because they have kids, a house and a family business. They have to have that “big conversation” but where do they begin? Who makes the first move? And can they ever trust each other again?

      After such a nasty, bitter election, where does Bermuda begin to have that “big conversation” and start the healing process?

        Whichever way you look at it, last night’s result was a massive vote of confidence for Dr. Ewart Brown and his style of Government and the PLP’s track record.  Depending on your point of view, it’s also an endorsement for a seemingly corrupt, unethical, fiscally irresponsibly, race-baiting Government too.

          While it was deeply disappointing – disturbing, even – for a lot of people that more voters didn’t send Dr. Brown “a message”, they need to look long and hard at what the results tell us.

            First off, it indicates that PLP support is indeed “solid as a rock” and that Dr. Brown’s statement “an attack on me is an attack on the PLP” clearly proved to be a rallying point. For all the people I know that hate Dr. Brown with a passion, I have heard many others – particularly younger blacks – who admire him. For them, a strong, decisive black man who is not afraid to stand up to the (white) establishment is a powerful figure. Even those among his party who disagree with Dr. Brown were clearly not going to risk losing the power that the PLP fought so long and hard to achieve. Not that Dr. Brown is likely to be going anywhere soon either – his position is surely now stronger than ever.

              I think the election also clearly tells us that race still matters in Bermuda. Really matters. I don’t really know what it will take for Bermuda to get over this but all of us on this Island need to work even harder at it. There is clearly a huge disconnect between races and cultures that now, thanks to this polarising campaign, seems wider than ever.

                I remember working in the Gazette newsroom on election night in 1998 and there was a palpable feeling of history and hope: everyone knew the PLP had deserved to win and many of us felt that at last, with the PLP in power, race would no longer be an issue as black Bermudians really did now control their own destiny. But it clearly still is an issue.

                  As distasteful as the rhetoric was from the likes of Lovitta Foggo and others, it clearly resonates with a lot of people, not all of whom can be dismissed as blindly ignorant. Why is that?  Why do we still not understand each other?

                    The PLP too need to understand that a lot of white people – apart from Zane DeSilva’s family, of course! – now feel like second class citizens and as marginalised as they themselves did before 1998. That’s no way to rebuild a country. They no more see the PLP as supporting their interests as PLP supporters see the UBP as a beacon of racial harmony.

                      In fact, the other major thing this election tells us is that the UBP is just about finished as a viable political party. How can it possibly continue after failing to convince the electorate that it was a sane, multi-racial alternative to the vitriolic rhetoric of the PLP – despite all the apparent evidence of a corrupt and dishonest Government? Even if they replace Michael Dunkley with a black leader like Bob Richards or Shawn Crockwell, there is just too much historical baggage for the UBP to ever to win another election.

                        The UBP needs to call it a day and disband so that a new opposition can coalesce around real issues that affect us all, regardless of race.

                          However, I was encouraged by something I heard on the radio this morning.

                            Hott 107.5 DJ and PLP tub-thumper Thao Dill has rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way these past few weeks, what with falling foul of the political broadcast regulations for his shrill and unabashed support of Dr. Brown. But this morning, when a PLP supporter called in and started dissing the “Oreos” in the UBP, Dill cut him off sharpish and gave him a lecture about using such inflammatory language and that to do so was simply “justifying the criticism of us”. The caller needed to show a lot more demonstrable love towards his fellow Bermudians, said Dill.

                              Way to go, Thao. If more people feel that way then maybe there is hope for us all yet.     

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