« Fumbling | Main | The Worst Of Bermuda Awards 2005 »

"We Were Wrong"

Last Thursday, buried in the news of the blackout, a politician apologised for using race to divide the electorate.

Criticising some members of his party for "trying to benefit politically from racial polarisation", he said the party had not effectively reached out to part of the community. "We were wrong," he said. "[It's] not healthy for the country for our political parties to be so racially polarised."

A Bermudian politician? Alas, no. It was chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman.

Comments

Comment on this post on your own blog, then add a link here by sending a trackback to http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834549ba869e200d8344e077c53ef, or by using this form.

Additional Comments (29)

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ken Mehlman,

I think it's good that he articulated his opposition, but i view it through the lens of skepticism, both parties’ ultimate goal is to win elections and i find it highly unlikely that they're going to change any tactic that works.

Now the Republican Party may be specifically talking about a type of racial division that may be especially deplorable and transparent. (Southern Strategy)

But on both sides of the political isle exists a far subtler form of racial divisions. Used by both Republican and Democrats, although an argument can be made that one uses it more then the other.

So i guess he gets brownie points for saying it, but i think we would all rather his party actually does it, but that may just be too much to ask. Either way it hasn't stop Delay from gerrymandering several Texas' constituencies across racial lines...

anyways anyone interested in the announcement of the SC nominee tonight?

Cancundreaming,
Yes I'm interested. Very. It worries me a little, since Dubya has an opportunity to extend his far right agenda long past the end of his Presidency as these buggers are nominated for life.

It's a faint hope, but I'm looking for someone a little more moderate, dare I say reasonable.

Seeing as it's legal to gamble in Bermuda(sic), anybody want to throw out a name as to who gets the nod from Dubya tonight?

Just a little friendly.

(Limey, winner gets to pick the next open mic discussion?)

Everyone seems to suggest that's it's Edith Clement, and I’m sure she's a fine jurist, but the fact that she has no body of opinions, nothing she can be held too, while is beneficial for the confirmation process, seems a bet a bit dangerous when one is referring to the SC. Either way it's going to be a good show.

The best of a bad bunch would be James Wilkinson III. He seems to be the smartest, least offensive, and least dogmatic of the likely candidates. Unfortunately, Dubya will pick someone more extreme. Perhaps one of the hispanics - that chap who worked with him in Texas Garza or Gonzalez.
then there's the guy McConnell. Anti-abortion even in rape and incest cases, who doesn't beleive in the secular state and believes religious services (i.e. Christian ones) should be part of everyday school life.

I bet one dark n stormy (if the power stays on) that Dubya picks McConnell.

Wow, that must be the fastest that any thread has gone off topic.

Please stick to the subject. Thanks.

Limey, Ken was wrong.

Cancuundreaming writes:

"Now the Republican Party may be specifically talking about a type of racial division that may be especially deplorable and transparent. (Southern Strategy)

But on both sides of the political isle exists a far subtler form of racial divisions. Used by both Republican and Democrats, although an argument can be made that one uses it more then the other."

Finally someone sees politics for what it is - politics. Whether it be UBP, PLP, Republican or Democrat. It's all about political expediency, whether it be Dr. Brown talking about returning to plantation or Dodwell talking about forming some race forum, it is all to get votes.

Onion - do you honestly believe that ALL politicans make ALL statements and take ALL actions purely for the purpose of increasing their vote count.

I firmly believe that there are people on both sides of the house who honestly believe that some/most/all of their actions and statements are actually in the best interests of the country as a whole, and NOT simply to get votes.

It is logical to assume that if an action or statement is in the best interests of the country, that will appeal to people who vote, and a product of that would be more votes for the politician.

My thinks thou art far to cynical of all politicians (although I do agree that there are some (on both sides) who do look for the "vote" as the primary motivation)

Although I’m sure that Onion can speak for himself, I think he was referring to elections specifically, the cliché is that politicians run in poetry but govern in prose, and while this doesn't exactly apply to what we're talking I think that there is some general truth in it in the sense that before any politician is able to institute policies that he/she truly believes will be best for his or her country, he/she has to get elected first, more specifically, his/her party has be in the majority. This fundamental truth I think leads to the votes first, everything else later policy that is often used by many politicians and political parties. Whether these people actually do what they believe is best is another argument, I suppose there is even an argument of whether their personal opinions matter when it’s in opposition to the will of their constituents.

Pitts,

ALL politicians make decisions and take positions based on how it will impact their desirability to be elected or to get re-elected. How many politicians, that you know of, will make decisions or take positions tht are unpopular with their core support base?

Guilden,
None, none at all. I was thinking of Rosa Kleb in the UK, (aka Margaret Becket) the minister for the Department for Elimination of Farming and Rural Affairs shows utter contempt for farmers and their plight. But of course her electorate are townies in the suburbs who could care less about farming but DO care about the amount of money spent on the CAP.

It's not cynical at all to question politicians motives. That's politics, everything (well almost everything ) is calculated.

Limey,

Responding directly to your article, there will continue to be race used for political gain in Bermuda until such time as there exist complete racial equality and race no longer separate the population.

Simply look at the pictures of the march for affordable housing. How many in the march were white? Take a look at senior management across all sectors of the Bermuda business environment. How many black faces do you see? Do they represent the racial make up in Bermuda?

As long as there remains the economic inequality between the races in Bermuda the politicians will use race to their advantage. The UBP did it by using ET Richards, John Swan and Pamela Gordon as party leaders. If anyone believes that this was not a tactic to attract black votes they are highly mistaken. Of course the PLP is going to use race to its advantage, throughout its history it has not receive much support from the white voters, in fact those whites that joined the party were ostracised for doing so.

If the PLP can remain the government by using race to its advantage can you really blame the party? When I stated, under another post, that the UBP were using their empowerment legislation and focus on race relations to garner the black vote you stated that politics is about garnering votes. Is this truly any different from the stance of the PLP, accept maybe being a little more subtle?

Oxford Dictionary:-

G.G.

Example (a)

GOOSE. A two legged foul. Most are White through liniage of genes.

Gander:- Offspring of (a). Slightly ruffled, egg bearing product. Will attack when chicks are threatened.

Domicile:- Located in highly developed and under developed regions.

Extingtion rate:- 10-19%.

Cause:- Too much FL..Ucktuation between the Races of who wants to be on top.........

Solution:-

'Whats good for the Goose is good for the Gander.

Liabilities:- Offspring.

Guilden

ALL politicians make decisions and take positions based on how it will impact their desirability to be elected or to get re-elected. How many politicians, that you know of, will make decisions or take positions tht are unpopular with their core support base?

Politicians have two responsibilities. First, they are there to represent their constituents. Second, they're there to provide leadership. These two aspects of their role are often in conflict.

Consider Tony Blair's decision to take the UK to war in Iraq alongside the US. Most Britons did not want him to do this. So an argument can be made for saying that he should not have done so. However Blair claimed that he was showing leadership - in essence, that he knew better than the people what was good for them. And perhaps he did - after all he had access to information that the people he represented did not.

Another example: this Government's refusal to act to eliminate discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation - and the UBP's refusal to speak up in support of gay rights too (jake - I hope you have that bottle of champagne ready for me). They're not going to do anything about it because they believe that's not what most people who voted for them want them to do. And as representatives of those people, perhaps that's a valid argument. But you can also argue (as I would) that both parties should be showing leadership on this.

Race is no different. If the majority of the PLP's supporters did not want racial reconciliation then I could understand the PLP's decision to do nothing about it. But I don't believe that's the case. I think most people do want racial harmony. So by doing nothing to bring it about (and by sometimes doing things that seek to fuel racial tensions), the PLP are showing neither leadership nor representing the interests of their constituents.

From the people I have spoken to I agree that the UBP's choice of Pam Gordon as leader was a cynical decision to attract the black vote. I'm not so sure about John Swan though. He doesn't seem like the kind of person who would let himself be used. And it was him who last brought the issue of independence to a vote - not something I would have expected him to be able to do if he was not in control of the party. But who knows?

The key issue here though is that while the use of race as a political weapon may be understandable, should it be acceptable? Ken Mehlman stood up and explicitly said it was not. I wish Alex Scott would do the same. Perhaps you would like to hear Grant Gibbons say it too.

Limey,

What do you think constitutes racial harmony and how do you think this should come about?

Limey,

"I'm not so sure about John Swan though. He doesn't seem like the kind of person who would let himself be used. And it was him who last brought the issue of independence to a vote - not something I would have expected him to be able to do if he was not in control of the party. But who knows?"

Sir John wasn't used? I disagree with that and I believe, based on a conversation I had with him after the 1955 referundum that he would disagree with thhis comment as well.

His party turned against him for pushing "his" independence agenda. Actually if you look at who, within his party, stood with him during his independence campaign versus those who opposed him there was clearly a racial divide. Is that control of the party? Independence is something he believe very strongly in and pushed it because he believed in it not necessarily because the party agreed with him.

If racial harmony will only exist when there are equal (or perhaps 60/40 or whatever the population percentage is at the time) ratios of black/white persons in CEO-esque roles, then we're going to have to start with education. I see it as a possiblity, but not when there is such a discrepency between performance in school and college of white and black students. Companies will not hire and advance candidates without qualifications just because of their race. Who is to blame for poor performance in schools? Well by the time the next election comes about virtually every student in Bermuda's school systems will have been educated under the PLP's rule. Are things getting better or worse? Who is to blame? Will Berkley be done then? Will it even help? Imagine if the $40 million or so that project is overbudget had instead been spent on increasing teachers salaries and training.

But I digress...

As long as race still settles the vote, politicans will use it. It sucks.

Lost in Flatts,

"I see it as a possiblity, but not when there is such a discrepency between performance in school and college of white and black students."

Would you mind explaining what this discrepency is? Is one race of student outperforming the other?

I don't have figures on me, however I know that a much higher percentage of white students go on to achieve a college level degree. My point is that this is where the problem starts. And to achieve equal access to education opportunites, it is the governments responsiblity to provide quality public schooling. In such a small community it should not be so difficult, especially given the resources available.

Oh and I'm absolutely NOT saying there is any difference in ability, if that was what it sounded like. I'm saying that we should see equal levels of educational achievement across race, but we don't.

Lost in Flatts,

I agree with you. t is not only the responsibility of government to provide a quality educational system but it is imcumbent on parents to get involved in the education of their children. Too many parents leave it to the teacher and the school alone to educate their children.

The parent must make certain that the child does his/her homework and to find out how the child is performing in school. Waiting for the report card to come home is not enough. If a child is allowed to slack off he/she will.

Sorry, even that wasn't very clear. What I'm saying is that what we should see is equal performance, which will in turn should lead to equal promotion in the work force and so on. But we unfortunately do not see this at the moment, and this should be governments first priority. In my opinion, of course ;)

Onion

What do you think constitutes racial harmony and how do you think this should come about?

Interesting question.

I'd define racial harmony as blacks and whites regarding each other as equals, without rancour or suspicion.

I think achieving it will involve:

1. Ensuring black and white Bermudians earn the same for the same work (something the 2000 Census suggests was not happening 5 years ago), and that there's equality of opportunity for all. This will require,

2. Ensuring all Bermudians have equal access to quality education, and

3. Identifying and working to eliminate institutional racism wherever it may exist. I think this will be best done by

4. Politicians showing leadership and refrain from exploiting race for political ends, however tempting that may be. If they came together and formed a bi-partisan committee to tackle the issue I think that would send a powerful message of their sincerity. It would show us that they're not just interested in using it to win votes.

5. A Ken Mehlman-style apology by both Alex Scott and Grant Gibbons on behalf of their parties might help too, if it was sincere. I'm sure both of them can find things to apologise for.

The deaths of the old dinosaurs on both sides would probably help too. I think race is much less of an issue for most of today's youth.

What will not bring it about is sitting back and claiming that change will come "through families and the community" as PLP senator Raymond Tannock was reported as saying in today's RG. Making this happen will require work. It will require the involvement of families and the community, yes, but the politicians have the ability to drive this forwards.

I think that you will see more senior black people in companies as black people start more companies. This is not to say it will be a black company (only black employees) but that as black people play a greater role in ownership you will see more equal treatment from other ethnic groups. Oprah as an example gets widespread supoport and does not dilute her blackness (or over emphasise it either).

The Chinese had this problem as well and now they are doing business as equals on mutual terms.

Perhaps it can happen in Bermuda - accountability and equality based on open and honest interaction.

I do think it is happening.

Random thoughts from been there done that,

Racial harmony will come about when we think and say "we the people " rather than " them and us "

If you think that JWS was the main thrust behind the push for independence you also beleive that all politicians take a vow of poverty and humility.

There is now a phone that can identify with alarming accuracy whether or not the caller is telling the truth or bullshitting to conceal his agenda, would that it were mandatory to phone in all comments to Limey !!

Bill is right - so is Limey, when they offer up their suggestions.

BUT - the piece that is missing from the jigsaw is that we (whites) do not understand the issue. We think we do - but we don't.

We do not understand what black people really feel..we have no real understanding for what is in their collective soul..and...if we do not understand that...we cannot find a realistic solution to allow all of us to move forward.

How often do we comfort a child, because it's the only thing we can do...when we do not understand what is upsetting the child.

One of the things I worry about in life generally is "extremes". In the context of racial issues, that may mean blacks who are happy to hide behind the history and never move forward because it means moving out of their comfort zone, and also whites who are happy to continue to discriminate - often for reasons they cannot verbalise.

Both are dangerous in their own right...and nothing will shift them from their view.

But main stream society can move forward if their is both a will do to do so and there is understanding.

The question is - how do we understand?

Just a thought.

Martin,

Very well said.

Limey says,

"Onion

What do you think constitutes racial harmony and how do you think this should come about?

Interesting question.

I'd define racial harmony as blacks and whites regarding each other as equals, without rancour or suspicion.

I think achieving it will involve:

1. Ensuring black and white Bermudians earn the same for the same work (something the 2000 Census suggests was not happening 5 years ago), and that there's equality of opportunity for all. This will require,

2. Ensuring all Bermudians have equal access to quality education, and

3. Identifying and working to eliminate institutional racism wherever it may exist. I think this will be best done by

4. Politicians showing leadership and refrain from exploiting race for political ends, however tempting that may be. If they came together and formed a bi-partisan committee to tackle the issue I think that would send a powerful message of their sincerity. It would show us that they're not just interested in using it to win votes.

5. A Ken Mehlman-style apology by both Alex Scott and Grant Gibbons on behalf of their parties might help too, if it was sincere. I'm sure both of them can find things to apologise for.

The deaths of the old dinosaurs on both sides would probably help too. I think race is much less of an issue for most of today's youth.

What will not bring it about is sitting back and claiming that change will come "through families and the community" as PLP senator Raymond Tannock was reported as saying in today's RG. Making this happen will require work. It will require the involvement of families and the community, yes, but the politicians have the ability to drive this forwards."


Agreed.

Onion

We agree?! Good God! ;-)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Updates By Email

  • Enter your email address below to receive a daily email containing all new posts.
     

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Search The Site

-->

Contact Your MP

  • Politicians are elected to serve the people. If your MP is doing a good job or isn't living up to your expectations, let him or her know. Contact details for all PLP and UBP MPs and senators can be found here.