There's a strong new voice out there in opinion-land. It's the voice of Joey Gaskins, a Bahamian currently studying sociology at LSE. He's already made interventions in all sorts of arenas, to some personal cost; but he's still writing. Hats off to him. My plan is to go and dig up the various positions he's taken, and to link explicitly to the group blog to which he contributes. But in the meantime, here's his latest opinion, as published in yesterday's Tribune:
A nationally televised, internet streamed, radio broadcast of our two seasoned political leaders and the firebrand new contender debating policy, defining differences in ideology and comparing visions of the Bahamian future is beneficial for all, especially the Bahamian people.I know I'm not alone when I say that I'm interested in hearing what our hopeful leaders have to offer, outside of the theatrics of adversarial parliamentary posturing and away from the throngs of adoring fans. Despite the fact that some political leaders believe they must no longer compete for their inevitable ascendancy, that they are tried and tested, these are new and unusual times.The politicians and the politics of the 1990s -- even of 2007 -- are obsolete. And as far as the politics of the Bahamas is concerned, both of our long-standing parties have seemed comfortable with the formula bequeathed to us by our colonial forefathers, a pepper-pot of traditionalism in some areas and a discourse of modernisation in others -- a dish which has resulted in the gradual disintegration of the Bahamian middle class over the last decade in the face of a global economy in transition, concentrating wealth more and more in fewer peoples' hands.This is also not the most opportune time for a greenhorn politician to stake a leadership claim with a less than impressive political resume. The simple answer would be to say the Bahamas needs a new politician or a new political party, when in actuality what I think we need is a new politics. I am left unconvinced that, in what has become a politics plagued by ego, we should suffer yet another political contender asserting his dominion over our government with an air of entitlement.via The Tribune.
I agree. But I would go further. I am not interested in what only the leaders have to say; our politics and our administration has been too top-down, too hands-off for most of us. I want to hear what the leaders have to say, but unfortunately I don't have much faith in any of the current contenders (though I do have my own personal fondnesses). I would like to hear also from the people standing for election in my own constituency. In this country devoid of any sort of meaningful local government I want to know how the one person whose job it is to represent me and my neighbourhood and that convenient fiction called the constituency plans to do it. I want to know which legislation they plan to address in the next five years' time, how they hope to review it, how it is going to help me. I want to know what my prospective MP thinks about the Bahamas in the 21st century and how he or she intends to serve my interests. So debates for leaders, by all means; but I want to hear from our representatives even more; for I have absolutely no intention of casting a vote for any political party in 2012. Rather, I want to place men and women of honour and integrity in the House of Assembly, where they have a job and a responsibility to do that should transcend their loyalty to their party or their Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition. I want to have more men and women of courage in the House of Assembly who will be prepared to defy the party whip and stand up and speak for their constituents. We have no local councils to appeal to, and so our national MPs must do it for us. I want to see debates at that level too.Write on, Joey! And for those who haven't yet read his work and the work of his contemporaries, I suggest you look for him. His is a voice we would do well to heed, now and in the future.Happy new year.