There is a popular radio show that calls itself “The Revolution”. When I listen to it, however, I hear very little that is revolutionary. What I do hear is two things: complaints that the present “system” is not working, and the encouragement of a coup that would replace the present “leaders” with a younger group with better “ideas”. Revolution implies the wresting of power from the hands of its present holder and, at least in its heroic sense, returning it to the hands of the “people”. A coup, on the other hand, replaces one order with the next. The show “The Revolution” really offers neither.

The problem is that the power is already in the hands of the “people”, and there is no new order to transfer it to. The people have chosen to delegate their power to individuals they no longer trust or like, and they are no longer happy with their delegation. So talk show hosts, political pundits and bar-room politicians simply “throw things at the wall and see what sticks”. Revolution is one such idea.

While the “people” have had the power at least as far back as 1967, they have not accepted the responsibility that comes with that power. They have declared themselves a nation, but chosen not to get involved in the dirty details of nation-building. Instead, they have replaced the bottoms in the seats once occupied by a privileged minority with those that represent the majority, then waited for the benevolence of the new “Crown”. After the change, they still expected to be taken care of.

While I am sure this phenomenon may not be unusual in post-Colonial countries, the Bahamas has gone one better than all the rest. It is the only country that has chosen to offer its citizens no involvement in the day-to-day governance of the country whatsoever. The citizens must remain irresponsible, because there are no vehicles by which to exercise responsibility.

Yes, ma’am, our single-level government is unique, even within dictatorships. (For those that may not be clear what a single-level government is, imagine the US cancelling its Municipal, County and State governments, and having only the Federal Government to run everything. Or Canada. Or Germany. Or England, supposedly our model, where their local government system is perhaps the most sophisticated and powerful in the world.) Not only is it unique, it is the real cause of most of the political complaints that make us want to talk about revolution in the first place.

For example, if the first implication of being a citizen is taking personal responsibility for the successes and failures of the country (it is no longer “they”, but rather “we”), it becomes impossible to really be a citizen if there is no vehicle by which to participate in the governance of the country on an on-going basis. In our single-level system, the only involvement is a renewal of an employment contract every five years. Otherwise, we must try to influence the behavior of the National Government by pitching tantrums in public places.

The second critical short-coming of the single-level government is that it does not allow for the training of political leaders. If the Miami Dolphins decided to find a new wide receiver, they would scour the College ranks, where hundreds of receivers are being prepared for careers on the professional stage. Likewise, those colleges send scouts into the high schools to find potential wide receivers in need of refinement. The NBA and the MLB do the same. And so does the political arena. Without this opportunity to groom and test new leaders, the “system” simply repeats itself, as the existing leaders “mentor” newcomers, who either survive because they adopt the old mindset or get spit out because they have no idea what’s going on.

These two reasons alone make it urgent for us to demand a change. But that is not being revolutionary. We are simply fixing our present vehicle to try to make it road-worthy. We have a car that functions to some extent without a clutch, but it will never get us where we need to go unless we install that clutch, so we can influence the speed and quality of the ride. You see, the third reason the single-level government must be addressed is that while we may be a democratic nation at heart, the lack of participation by the citizenry in the governance of the country breeds frustration and a sense of impotence. The behavior we see on our streets, especially among our younger members, may well have something to do with that frustration and impotence.

August 2, 2015

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