Features — 17 March 2018
If third party leaders  are serious

I believe I heard a third party leader say, after the results of the municipal elections were announced, that Belizeans are content to vote for corruption. That is so unfair. Belizeans don’t vote for third party candidates because in our first-past-the-post system (FPTP), it doesn’t make sense.

If you ask around you will find that many Belizeans have favorable things to say about many of our third party leaders. However, some third party leaders have very narrow agendas and, for whatever reason, none of them have put together a dedicated slate of candidates to contest general elections.

Third parties have managed to put forward viable teams to contest in municipal elections. But it is proven that they don’t get any traction when municipal elections take on national implications, like the last one. When a government is holding on to power too long, for whatever reason, or a government gets too corrupt and vindictive, serious Belizeans (who haven’t quit on the system) will ignore third parties.

It is to be hoped that serious, sincere third party leaders will stop butting their heads in a system that is set to wall them out. It is fair for new leaders who want to introduce themselves to the people to do so through the first-past-the-post system, but senior leaders, the older horses, must find a different vehicle.

If third party leaders are serious about change they will work for a referendum on the elected Senate and the alternative vote. They will give their all to see such proposals are on the ballot when Belizeans go to the polls in the next general elections. If the leaders of the third parties don’t know how to get that job done, they can ask Ms. Audrey Matura for lessons. It was not so long ago that Ms. Matura used a “people’s referendum” to power the cause against oil exploration in our sea.

BPP Leader, Patrick Rogers, has indicated that he is going all-out for an elected Senate. My two cents is behind the effort. I had believed that a sincere “selected” Senate could get the job done for us, but the government under the UDP insists on putting politics before people. The “selected” Senate UDP-style is an old turkey, only with more colorful feathers. The PUP has been for an elected senate and there’s no reason to believe they are not still for it.

The elected Senate would go a good distance toward ending corrupt and vindictive government in our country, put much of the business of party before nation behind us. Putting an end to the first-past-the-post system and replacing it with the alternative vote would seal the deal.

I would like to call the alternative vote, AV, the legitimate vote, LV, because it would allow the Belizean people to choose their candidates without the overwhelming fret of supporting a corrupt party.

Using the results of the recent Belize City Council election we find, after counting the total accepted votes for mayor, that Bernard Wagner came out on top with (10,598) 50.5% of the votes. Dion Leslie got (9,597 votes) 45.7%, Paco Smith got (539) 2.5% of the vote, and Eustaquio Torres got (240) 1.1% of the vote.

Now let’s suppose it was the AV system, not the FPTP, and Wagner came out on top but he got less than 50% of the 20,974 votes that were accepted. Say he got 10,067 votes, 48%. In the AV system voters are allowed to vote for a FIRST CHOICE and for a SECOND CHOICE. Since no one got 50% of the FIRST CHOICE votes in our example, the SECOND CHOICE votes would then be added to the tallies of the top two vote getters. To move his 48% to 50%, Bernard Wagner (in our example) would only have needed 420 such votes (second choice votes) to take him to victory.

The benefit of the AV is easy to see. Consider, if a voter thought that Smith was the best candidate, or Torres, but they also felt that the government needed to get a message, and they considered Bernard Wagner formidable enough for their vote, then the voter would give their FIRST CHOICE to the candidate they considered best, Smith or Torres, and give their SECOND CHOICE vote to Wagner.

The AV system does diminish the PARTY, and increase the worth of the CANDIDATE. The FPTP amounts to near obliteration of the CANDIDATE in our elections process. The proof of that is that after fifty years no independent/third party candidate has come within a mile of winning an election in Belize.

The trouble with increasing CANDIDATE and decreasing PARTY is that we could end up with no PARTY getting a 50% majority of the seats in a general election. That would mean we end up with a PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION type system without intending to go there.

The solution to that is simple, if we don’t care to go there. In the Belize version of AV we make the party that gets the most seats form the government. Say, for example, the PARTY with the most seats only gets 12, the Opposition gets 10, and the third parties and independents get 9 seats. No problem, the Prime Minister and Cabinet come from the party that won 12 seats.

In the event of a tie (two parties get the same number of seats), it is fair to make the party that wins the popular vote form the government.

There is no need to have any crossing of the floor in the Belizean version of AV. What you have is stable government, solid for a fixed, four-year term. And what you have is government that will have to reach into the House to find FOUR votes to support the bills it wants to pass. All this can be done with only minor changes to the parliamentary system we now practice.

Would the Magi have followed HER?

It is only after these Americans got rich that sound ideas and age-old ideals, values, and terms have been experiencing such reversal. These Americans, they are so much about tearing down. It is the eternal problem with the noveau riche. They don’t know how to act. They want to enter class society dragging all their baggage behind them. I ask, can anyone engaged in a negative enterprise attain STAR status?

Braa, was My Fair Lady a STAR before she met Professor Higgins? Okay, I’m way off course there. That’s no example for what I am after at all. A poor flower girl can be a STAR. And the rich and famous can think what they want.

Okay, I got it; I got the devil and devils we want. Was Paul of Tarsus a STAR before Damascus? We know he was a popular guy. People who do wotlis things and say wotlis things are always the life of the party. Oh yes, how he must have reveled in putting people down with his wikid tongue. Everyone must have known him. He must have been popular with many. But he wasn’t a STAR. He did not become a STAR until after Damascus!

Was Jeffrey Dahmer a star? Scarce a person in this world doesn’t know his name after someone opened a freezer in his house and found human cadavers cut up like beef. No sane person calls him a STAR. Is OJ Simpson a STAR? For sure he was, when he was a football player. He might even have been a star for his work in the movies. Did his alleged murderous rage add luster, shine to his name? Emphatically no!

Is the devil a star? He is very well-known. If the devil is a STAR, how do we describe God?

It’s really a simple test to determine what a star is. Here, just go outside tonight and look up in the sky. So much “like a diamond”—so bright, so fascinating, so easy for the Magi to find, and follow. Aha, that’s it, that’s what a STAR is.

These Americans have to be crazy to call Miss Stormy Daniels—a STAR. Only in America could an adult who performs in adult movies be described as a star. You can spot a light on things that should be done in the dark but that doesn’t make it fitting for consumption in the day.

We can’t quarrel with her for her profession. She has a right. And she is no Dahmer, or Simpson. And nothing about her looks reminds us about a red bogha with horns. Of course we will not discuss natural male feelings on the matter because that’s not part of the criteria.

What the criteria is, is the Magi. Would they have followed her? If they had, I doubt she would have led them to a stable in Bethlehem to see Mary, and Joseph, and Baby Jesus. The wonderful gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh would have ended up some place else.

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Deshawn Swasey

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