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Friday, June 5, 2020
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Democratic Maturity

Dear Editor,

I must be the first to confess that there is much that I do not like about the United States but will also be the first to confess that there is much I love about it. The Americans have managed to build a First World superpower in a relatively short period of time in their short 200-plus years of existence. They have done this through innovation, hard work and a vision of where they wanted to be in the future. Their leadership had their eyes on global influence and they did everything to push their national interest to achieve that. The US has always, and that’s even before this current administration’s public pronouncement, placed American interests first. Those who have not seen this are blind. While there may be those who disagree with this, I will save that conversation for another time.

Any country that fails to put its national interest first is prone to fail, and as I have always said, if Belize had done that we would not be in this terrible situation in which we are now. The Americans long realized that unity and patriotism would form a key pillar to their success and that while party politics was important to their democratic process, it would not form the basis of their success. At the middle and lower levels of the American political hierarchy, party is of little concern. The Americans insure that for the most part the right man is doing the job and getting the results that they want. Money drives the American system and while it should not be solely dependent on that, they also take into account that money can do a lot of things and make the lives of a lot of people better. The Americans may be divided on a number of neverending issues which include religion, politics, culture, the way they are governed, the environment and a multitude of other issues which are too numerous to mention, but one thing holds common:  Americans all view themselves as Americans. In times of crisis patriotism and the idea of being an American is even greater, such as during World War I and II and after the 911 attacks. In other words, one thing is certain: the Americans know when to unite when there is a common threat and when national interest is at stake.

The US is one of those few countries that will actually put someone from the opposing party in levels as high as the Cabinet despite the fact that the political system is not designed to be ruled by what would commonly be seen as the typical democratic coalition. This goes back as far as Washington’s cabinet, which had opposing Federalists, and remains a practice throughout succeeding presidencies all the way to Trump. Some notable examples include Robert Gates, a Republican serving as Secretary of Defense in Obama’s Democratic cabinet; Norman Mineta, a Democrat as Secretary of Transportation under Bush’s Republican cabinet; Alan Greenspan, a Republican as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve in Clinton’s Democratic administration; and Jeane Kirkpatrick, a Democratic UN Ambassador in Reagan’s Republican administration. These are just but a few examples of opposing parties in different administrations throughout the history of the US. What the Americans have shown is a certain level of political maturity that transcends politics and party. What the Americans strive for is national success and may the best man do the job.

It is an open secret that there are a number of numb-skulls in Barrow’s administration, and this is not because I am picking on this administration, because we have also had some real ‘Einsteins’ in previous ones. The practice of assigning multi-million-dollar ministries to men who do not have the experience to run a panades shop is something that we as a nation must discontinue. As a people we are entrusting a huge part of our resources and finances to men who would not qualify for any reasonable position in any industry or company in Belize. By the power of the vote, we put them into office and most of the time the monies that they find at their disposal is too tempting to resist. I am not saying that highly qualified men will steal any less, but the chances of mismanagement and incompetence are greater when you just don’t know.

Our biggest problem is that we have removed the professionals out of the picture and allowed a degree of micromanaging that is harmful, inefficient and counter-productive. Representatives are elected to legislate and lead, not to run ministries, and that has become one of our biggest mistakes. In order to grow and build a successful nation, we have to reach across the aisle and get the best man to do the job even if it involves someone from the Opposition. No winning party has an exclusivity on knowledge and intelligence, and definitely neither does one person, as most Belizean prime ministers tend to act. True leadership is knowing when to join for a common cause and when to put aside party politics for nation building.

This nation would be a lot further if we demonstrated the maturity to build this nation together rather than literally splitting the country at the seam because of party politics. I would bestow the greatest level of respect and admiration for the leader that is able to remove this political divide and build a stronger nation that is inclusive of all Belizeans. The Americans demonstrated this hundreds of years ago because they long realized that it was a working receipt. They have placed patriotism and national interest beyond everything and today the place where they are has proven that it works. There is not a single political party in Belize that can do it all on its own and can save the nation. It will require a collective and broad-based approach if we are to see real change in this generation’s lifetime. And now, for my final over-hand right; without much fanfare the National Olympic Committee once again put an athlete with one of the worst records to represent Belize at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Whatever this gial have ova this committee, I want some. Wake up, Belize.

It’s all about the people!!!!

Neri O. Briceño

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