By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press

The Westminster system of government that we adopted at Independence in 1973 is predicated on the notion that men and women offer themselves for service to their country as a way of giving back to a nation that nurtured them.

It presupposed that you would have achieved some level of success in your chosen vocation. In other words, the intention was not to make it your career, but simply a way of giving back. This is why it has always been so easy for legislators in the United Kingdom to step aside as soon as there is the slightest hint of improper behaviour under their watch. After all, they always have their career to go back to.

Once we adopted the Westminster model in The Bahamas, we did what we always do so well – proceeded to bastardise it. People who have never run anything in their lives enter the field of politics to make it a career and get rich. In the process, we have witnessed the routine corruption of every known institution in the society. Systems and laws are strategically created with loopholes so large that any criminal mind can penetrate with the greatest ease.

Unfortunately, good and honest people from civil society have traditionally been culpable because of their disconnected posture with regard to this society. Many have their bodies in The Bahamas but their minds in North America or elsewhere. And it doesn’t matter that so many of them have never even been to these places.

It is this very disconnectedness that has enabled the hustlers to take over the political process. I am old enough to remember with fondness some fine politicians of the 1960s and ’70s, or even the 1980s. These were men and women for whom politics was a noble way to serve their communities and, by extension, their country.

So many of them exited the political landscape poorer than they entered, but richer for the fact that they did serve their constituents with distinction and honour. It saddens me to say that, looking around at the present crop of politicians, I see few who remind me of this group of fine public servants.

The time is fast approaching when we should, as a followership, put a stop to this periodic feel-good facade called general elections if all we are doing is swapping one group of hustlers for another. Serious nation building demands far more. In fact, it demands an enlightened followership.

If we are going to continue with the Westminster system of government, let us also take into consideration the spirit of its very existence.