The Royal Gazette
Opinion (15 February, 2006)
One of the most frequently invoked words by politicians on either side of the aisle is “The Youth”. Whether the issue is housing, crime, education or the economy for example, you can rest assured that our political leaders will profess to be acting with a deep and profound concern for our youth and their future.
So why is it then that a quick glance around the Cabinet Office, and Parliament in general, reveals an elected and appointed leadership severely underrepresented by Bermuda’s younger generations?
If so much of our public policy is geared towards the youth, why is there such a glaring absence of young people in the political parties?
What is it about Bermudian politics that doesn’t inspire, or actively repels our best and brightest young (and older) minds from pursuing political careers?
There are a myriad of reasons contributing to this under-representation. Whether it be younger Bermudians establishing their professional careers, starting families or just plain old trying to make ends meet in one of the world’s most expensive economies everyone can cite a cause. But there’s got to be more to it than that.
As a 32 year old Bermudian, I can assure you that there’s more to it than that.
Bermuda’s current political debate is built around a framework that, quite simply, has no relevance to the majority of us who were either too young to remember, or born after, the era of segregation ended.
That terrible time, those battles and those politicians continue to dominate our political landscape, bringing with them their hostility, animosity and anger that comes with it.
So while younger Bermudians struggle to find affordable housing, raise their young families in safe communities and educate their children to the highest standards, the PLP relics desperately cling to outdated issues at the expense of the current ones.
It’s hard to believe I know, but according to the PLP Government, the most pressing issues in a 21st century Bermuda are the potential for a return to a plantation system, a manufactured conflict with a non-existent colonial foe and a strategic alliance with a brutal Cuban dictatorship.
Simply trading in his safari shirts for suits and shaving off his beard can’t conceal the undeniable fact that Alex Scott, and most of his colleagues, are political dinosaurs on the verge of extinction.
The majority of Cabinet, and the radical PLP base who put them there, came of age in the 1960s, but ceased to mature. Meanwhile the rest of Bermuda has passed them, leaving them to shadow box their imaginary issues and opponents, thoroughly convinced that they can somehow win a battle in which they’re the only ones fighting.
The PLP political model is simple: stoke the fires of racial hatred; keep those fires burning and the public will turn a blind eye to neglect over housing, education, crime, healthcare and seniors. This lack of vision, dynamism and compassion is crumbling under its own weight.
It’s little wonder then that the very youth whose interests are so frequently invoked find little appeal in politics, opting instead for that familiar brand of political cynicism. While understandable, this is the wrong response.
Never before has Bermuda enjoyed such an abundance of well-educated, business savvy and highly successful young people. Never before have Bermudians of all ages been presented with so many opportunities on a global scale, complete with the skills to take advantage of them.
A promising and prosperous future will be secured only when forward looking Bermudians, free of the shackles of the past, step forward and demand their place on the political stage and deprive that racial fire of its oxygen.
The narrow-minded and increasingly irrelevant obsessions of our current leadership can no longer be allowed to dominate Bermuda’s political stage. Young Bermudians must step forward with their energy, their ideas and their time.
It’s not easy, and we owe a great debt to those visionaries who have come before us. But it’s time for the next generation of political leaders to step forward and claim the mantle. Public service remains a noble calling, despite the best efforts of some of its current practitioners to prove otherwise.
It’s time to get involved.