The year 2012 is quickly fading into history; and 2013 is galloping toward us with a rush of uncertainty that must be worrying to many. We are reasonably certain that once the distraction of Christmas has passed and the realities of everyday life return to the forefront of our daily activities Barbadians will with vigour start again to express their dissatisfaction.
For sure there will be no more guessing about general elections — in fact, there will be no need to guess. The window open to the Prime Minister will be so narrow that come January 1 any, or every, Barbadian would be within his rights to declare the general elections campaign officially started.
We know that once the year opens the radio call-in programmes will resume and all indications are that the parties will have their propaganda machines well oiled and waiting for the moderator to declare: “Welcome to …, you’re on the air!”
By now Barbadians should also have recognised that just about every candidate has set up a Facebook page, and pretty soon you will be able to track everything from their breakfast menu to their last shower, while the email blasts will really start blasting. While the Barbados Labour Party has had this market cornered for the last several months, we expect that the Democratic Labour Party will join the fray in quick order.
And Barbadians who have no interest in joining the feeding frenzy that characterises branch and party meetings on weekend, will be able to follow the action live from their living rooms, via the world wide web. Whether or not they have recognised it, the Government and the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation have lost the monopoly on “broadcasting”, and the true extent of this will become absolutely clear early in 2013.
But the methods of communication, important as they are, are nothing more than a facilitation of the message — and it is in this sphere that the 2013 general elections will be won or lost. It will boil down to what each side has to say and how effectively they say it.
We have said it before, but we believe it is important to say it again: It is quite clear that the fears Barbadians have are not about the past, they are about the future and a significant portion of the electorate care very little about the Dems constant harping about what the Bees did or didn’t do prior to the last general elections; just as they are not particularly stirred — at least not positively — by Bees spouting on and on about how good they might have been for 14 years.
What Barbadians, Joe and Jane Citizen and Mr. and Mrs. Business Operator, want from the leaders and their parties is a sensible, realistic articulation of what they have devised to get the economy moving again. A 15- or 20-point action plan for the sake of it is taken by the voter as no more valuable that the constant complaining that “we could not do more because of the economy”.
Alleviation of national fear and the fostering of a sense of comfort across the country is highly dependent on the quality of the message from our political leaders and those who walk with them, and while the platform drivel may serve to provide a moment of levity, once the laughter dies the feeling of ill returns. We admonish our politicians to aim higher this time around.
We accept that there is a lot at stake for the two major political parties in this general election, but there is even more at stake if by our conduct we destroy the institutions that have brought us this far. We sincerely hope our politicians don’t hold to the view that anything goes once campaigning starts officially.