Sitting relaxed behind my computer, I was abruptly but pleasantly interrupted by a telephone caller who was listening to the Premier, David Burt, on the Sherry J talk show.
To paraphrase the comments, when the Premier was asked what he was doing to stimulate the economy, he said in response that he was pulling out all the plugs to allow the free flow of ideas and that he had informed his ministers that he will not tolerate them withholding ideas or projects because of a dislike of the proposers.
He said if anyone has a good idea as a proposal, they will be examined for the merit it has for the country. That statement, while seemingly simple — one may say, of course, that should be the way — was profound and the equivalent of an earthquake in the context of Bermuda politics, which has been tribalistic, to put it mildly.
Unfortunately, with every government known to this country since its inception, who proposed an idea was more important than what was being proposed. Proposers could be from only among the circle of the approved.
It is good to demonstrate leadership. I think many of us can remember the comments of a former premier who described herself as “just a spoke in the wheel”. Make no mistake, runaway ministries or invisible government patronage is not a Progressive Labour Party matter; this is a Bermuda matter, which was a form of political elitism that carved its way to become a culture of how things are done to preserve the order.
I have to congratulate Mr Burt for his stance. Even if it is just an attempt at breaking a pattern, it shows the kind of leadership to be encouraged.
When you examine the long history of Parliament, it was too often the case that matters were decided long before they hit the Hill. The political elites and businessmen had cornered the market to the extent that Parliament was just a perfunctory tool that went through the exercise of providing enough appearance of being above board.
The problem was twofold: it caused social and economic polarisation, and not always did the best ideas or proper approaches gain ascendancy.
A conservative thinker may say “well, that’s the way of the world” and may suggest we look at all the failed experiments of communism and ideologies to broaden the share of the market. The chickens have always come back home to roost and the oligarchs invariably rule once again.
Progressive thought, notwithstanding, aims for the ideal where, to the contrary, having a Cabinet committed to decisions based on merit and having a population that at the very least feels it is included in the opportunities and access to the market, is the best way forward.
It is so easy to turn everything into political soup, but some things need as far as possible not to be politicised. Education should not be political. Youth violence and, for certain, the economy also should be given broad national attention and not used as political talking points against the opponent.
So as it relates to the Premier’s comment, let’s not retreat into political stances. Let’s be positive and take his words as genuine, and bring forward all the ideas and thought to make Bermuda a better and more prosperous place.