Why You Should Make Political Candidates Earn Your Vote – Rogan Smith
The official website of award-winning and award-nominated talk show host, blogger and journalist, Rogan Smith.
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Why You Should Make Political Candidates Earn Your Vote

Image of a woman's hand dropping her vote in a ballot box

We’re still 15 months away from the 2022 General Election and toothy-grinned candidates are already showing up on doorsteps with party paraphernalia in hand, vomiting promises of a brighter future with no real roadmap to get there. 

Last week, both the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) unveiled their first slate of ratified candidates who will contest seats in next year’s election.

The PLP’s roster includes a number of fresh faces like attorney, Jomo Campbell, JoBeth Campbell-Davis and entrepreneur Leonardo Lightbourne. They join more seasoned politicians like Fred Mitchell, Alfred Sears and Michael Halkitis, all of whom have served as cabinet ministers in the former Christie administration.

Meantime, the FNM has ratified several political newcomers, including Adrian White, Brian Brown and Felicia Knowles, who will contest the St Anne’s, Golden Isles and Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador constituencies respectively. 

Many of the party’s incumbents like Dionisio D’Aguilar, Romauld Ferreira and Travis Robinson, could still be classified as fresh faces considering that they are still new to politics and are currently serving their first term in office.

Both sides seem determined to advance a new crop of politicians – ones with fresh ideas and presumably, less baggage. 

However, the problem is, many of the candidates on both sides of the aisle have no track record in public service and if they are elected, this will be their first time operating in this capacity.

Voters Are Demanding More

Prospective voters have told me that some of the candidates who approached them, seem unequipped to answer basic questions about how the government operates while others failed to elaborate on their plans for the constituencies they hope to represent. 

Some, they say, appear to be banking on party allegiance to secure a victory at the polls, but offering no blueprint of what they plan to do. The solutions they have received, tend to be trite, they say.

For too long, Bahamian politicians have been long on silly platitudes and tautologies and short on substance. That’s because we, the people, have not demanded substance. 

We were content receiving one-way messages broadcast from a rally platform. We were more focused on being entertained. 

But, these are serious times that require serious candidates with serious solutions. Once the election is over and the excitement has died down, those problems will remain. And the elected candidate will be expected to deal with them.

Any politician seeking your vote should work for it. He or she should be able to answer the tough questions you put to them. And if they can’t, you need to move on.

Talk To All Candidates

As election season heats up, it will be important to talk to all candidates to see what each of them is offering. 

Even if you are aligned with a political party, you would do yourself and your constituency a great disservice by lending your ear solely to that party’s candidate without weighing your options.

These candidates are applying for a job. In this scenario, you, dear voter, are the employer. Do you want to hire an inexperienced employee with no track record and no professional success in their own lives? 

Do you want keep a non-performer on the payroll and give him or her another five years to get it right? Or do you want to hire an out-of-the-box thinker with a solid resume and the right qualifications? Who you hire in 2022 will determine what type of employer you are. 

Over the years, I have interviewed candidates with no personal or professional success. In fact, they didn’t enjoy any type of success until they entered frontline politics. Many of them could not articulate why they wanted to represent the constituency they had been ratified to contest and others had no personal vision for the country. 

In fact, if you were to ask some of these candidates today about their party’s philosophy, they would draw a blank. This is why many of them avoid going on the local talk shows and fielding tough questions. But, somehow they want to convince voters that they are right for the job.

I often hear frustrated constituents say they won’t entertain politicians when they come around campaigning. That is foolish. What better time to get one-on-one with your prospective employee? And if it’s the incumbent who is campaigning, then that’s the perfect opportunity to give a performance review. 

As a voter, you don’t have to accept a ratified candidate if you don’t think he or she is not fit to represent your constituency. Parties want to win and if they think a candidate is polling poorly with voters before the election, they will drop them.

There have been many instances where ratified candidates withdrew from the race ahead of the election. 

A Few Questions To Ask

There are so many questions that one could ask a political candidate, but here are a few to get the conversation started:

  1. Why do you want to run for office? This is an icebreaker question, but it’s also a good way to gauge sincerity and intent.
  • What constituency/neighborhood do you live in? Why are you running for this area? How much time did you spend in this constituency before running for office?
  • What success have you had in your personal and professional life that qualifies you to run and manage an entire constituency? Listen carefully to the answer and follow up if you think they aren’t being specific or are merely giving platitudinous responses. 
  • What would you do if your leader proposed and forged ahead with a measure that would negatively impact your constituency?  Take notes.
  • Under what circumstances would you resign from the party?
  • What are the three most pressing issues facing this constituency and how would you solve them? Have you factored in costs?
  • How do you plan to involve constituents in the decision-making process for their area?
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