Last Wednesday’s general election was a blowout, a rout, a 26-5 shellacking that not even the world’s most dedicated optimist could find a bright side in for the UDP, unless they want to say it could have been worse, it could have been 31-0. I’ve wondered sometimes why no political party has ever been whitewashed, blanked at the polls, shut out of seats, for the Lord knows some of them have worked very hard to deserve going home with zero invites from the Governor General.
Looking at the numbers, the UDP did come close to getting blanked, a lot much closer to that state than they came to actually winning. Ah, you know, all things under the sun being possible, they could have won, which would have been sad, because they earned defeat, but when you control the finances of government the way all ruling parties in Belize do, a lot of things have to break against you before you get put on the sidelines where you belong.
No need to be scared, but while the UDP lost by 21 seats, 26 to 5, they only needed half that amount, 11 seats, to pick up the victory. If we look at what they needed to pick up the 11 seats they came closest to winning, we’ll see they lost those seats by a total of 8,011 votes, an average of 728 per constituency.
What a weeping and gnashing of teeth there would have been in Belize if those philistines had pulled that off. But, God is alive and well, and the proof is that He would have no part in their plans. That crowd had to go, and they went.
Third parties need to be more urgent
I told Brother Paul Morgan some years ago that I wouldn’t give a vote to a third party candidate again, not until there was a new electoral system. It hurts me that I can’t vote third party, but the system doesn’t allow it, especially in an election in which there is a three-term government that is proving everyday what that man said about power, that it corrupts, and the more you remain in control of the show the more corrupt you become.
There’s some proven talent in these third parties — leaders who have been studying the economy and system and making their voices heard for decades. I can’t say yay or nay about new leaders, because leadership has to have withstood the test of time before you can swear for it. That’s how it is and always will be. The test for honesty is no different. You can say you won’t commit a crooked act, but that’s just unsubstantiated talk until you actually resist an opportunity that comes by, one you have good reason to believe you can get away with. Note I never said anything about desperate situations. That’s a whole different story.
The UDP looks very weak right now, but the good news for them is that a lot of candidates who didn’t look too honest got dumped at the polls, meaning that if they want to be a serious option in the next election they have the opportunity to draft the kind of candidates that would clean up and strengthen their tarnished image. I don’t want to run too much into UDP territory, so I won’t talk about any fusion with any of the three third parties – the BPP, the BPF, or the VIP.
I will say that as it stands right now the third parties hold a key card, just like they did after the 2008 general election. We recall that in 2008 the PUP was smashed at the polls, and the VIP actually performed better than they did in the 2009 City Council election in Belmopan. That, of course, was just a shooting star. The VIP never beat, never came even close to beating, any major party in any election again.
I think the VIP sees that the electoral system has to be changed, that until such time third party candidates don’t stand a chance. The PEACE movement, which includes core VIP leadership, recovered enough from the setback with the redistricting exercise to publish a call for Proportional Representation, among other things. No one expects the PUP to make a move for proportional representation, even though they seem to be reform-minded, so the third parties will have to look to the UDP for that.
We are in a special third party moment at this time, because after a blowout general election, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition will be more willing to entertain the demands of the third parties, for a price.
My take on third party leaders is that they generally don’t feel the urgency of the masses. Straight up, when I was young and elders told me that Rome wasn’t built in a day, my response was that it could have been built in half the time. Hn, we have heard the story of the full-belly who told the empty-belly to kip heart. It’s all great to have long-term visions, but when you ask Belizeans to vote for you, you must know that many of us don’t know what we or our children are eating tonight.
The VIP, especially, is too squeaky clean. How do you tell a person without a dime to their name that they shouldn’t accept money from well-off aspirants for the big parties? There was a time in our country when only propertied people could vote. What we have to do is make sure that everyone has property, and then we can stop worrying about people selling their votes for cash instead of promises.
It’s about victimization
I believe I heard Wave’s Alfonso Noble say that many promises were made to UDP incumbents, but when the ballots were counted it was found there were a lot of empty vows. Mr. Noble wondered about this, why people would promise and not deliver. We also have the story of the pollsters, many who expected the election to be a lot closer based on information they had gathered.
Why would a person say something and go and do something else? We are really just little human beings, 6 thousand years removed from the caves, from that state when we were just like the beasts in the field. When we were in our beast state, which is our natural state, we did what we had to do to survive, just like the other beasts. And then the round hole called civilization came, and some of us who are square pegs, well that’s when deception entered the world. We learned to lie to others, and some of us even took it a step further and, incredibly, learned to lie to ourselves.
It is possible for people to not know their minds, or to change their minds, but the reason why we all tell an aspirant for the governing party that they will get our vote is that we fear victimization. We might tell an aspirant for the main opposition we’ll vote for them, just in case they win, and we might tell a third-party or independent candidate that we’ll vote for them, to give them courage or because we don’t want to hurt their feelings, but the biggest reason that we always tell the incumbent we’ll vote for them is that we fear victimization.