The silly season is upon us and most are anxiously waiting for Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to reveal his well-kept secret – the date of general elections.
Elections are critical to democracy and rightfully every eligible citizen should embrace the opportunity to participate in a process intended to keep a country on the forward march to development among other things.
It’s the ability to cast a ballot that enables voters to have a say on the issues that matter most to them and determine who has put forward the best approach to addressing their concerns.
Thus, the right to vote must not be treated carelessly, neither bought nor sold.
This election, there is no shortage of serious questions facing Barbados – a stagnant economy, leadership, crime and security, the delivery of social services, the moral breakdown in society, housing and so forth.
In this election, we will have even more political parties.
However, even in these early days of politicking one would be hard pressed to contemplate on the economic and social challenges given the charges and counter charges, mudslinging and controversies already making the rounds in the various political circles.
There are already signs that this election campaign will be defined by the two main political parties dodging the real questions facing Barbados.
While there will be catchy party tunes, attractive T-shirts, funny ads, big concerts and the like, the campaign looks unlikely to provide an insight into what the different parties have to offer on problems such as the south coast sewage mess, public transportation woes, salary increases for public servants, the National Social Responsibility Levy, the plight of residents in White Hill, potholes, and more.
Is it any wonder then that some already disenchanted, eligible voters have declared they would not go to the polls this time around? Key political players keep giving them every reason to stay away by speaking in high decibels but being low on substance on the platform.
People lose interest after repeated promises are broken, pledges made in glossy manifestos are forgotten on the road to Parliament, and elected MPs fail to knock on doors throughout the allotted five-year term to check up on their constituents.
Politicians, therefore, have a responsibility to raise the bar.
Given the serious issues confronting this country and the maturity of our democracy, the electorate deserves better in 2018 and should demand more.
There can be no denying that the happenings and mouthings on the campaign trail and the political platform often make for good humour and interesting debate.
But political players need to come to the party with serious intentions, given the huge stakes riding in the upcoming general election.
Citizens are tired of hearing about glorious past achievements and who is to blame for problems of old when so much confronts us.
They are fed up of big, unrealistic promises that are never delivered.
It’s time to change the game.
This election, Barbados needs voices of reason; people of goodwill and standard bearers to speak up and ensure that the real issues come to the fore and people get answers from players old, new and independent. Whether or not parties choose to engage each other in organized debates – and by all means, they should – candidates need to be frank, honest and serious about how they will treat to national issues.
Under our system of government, the people are ultimately the source of all power.
Voters then must use their power and teach political hopefuls who insult our intelligence a deserving lesson.
Amid all the election hype, voters must shrug off partisan politics long enough to force candidates to stay on topic and keep it clean.
Elections are the way we assert our sovereignty. For too long, politicians have been running the show. It’s high time that voters take their heads out of the sky and force politicians to run elections well – where country is the priority and not the afterthought.