Categorized | National News

Letter to the Editor

Obama: Good For The US, Bad For The Bahamas

As I sat watching the US election night coverage I was torn. “Who do you want to win, mommy,” my eight-year-old daughter asked me. For almost every black Bahamian that’s a straightforward question. It seemingly requires no in-depth thinking or mulling over. I would argue that the overwhelming majority of our population saw the vote strictly in terms of black and white. A middle class, black man going up against a privileged white man. If Bahamians could, they would have happily marked their ‘X’ for Obama.

History, however, has already been made. It was made four years ago when he won the first time. For Bahamians our honeymoon period with Obama should have ended and reality began to set in. As a predominantly black nation, undeniably Obama is a source of inspiration and worthy of our admiration. Yet, in our love affair with Obama we should rightly think national allegiance even if that was to run contrary to racial allegiance. This seems like a minor point, but it becomes vital if ever we face the prospect of a white prime minister. Our thinking and voting should always center upon what is best for The Bahamas, not what is best for a particular race. But, that is a topic for another day, so let me not digress.

Two Obama backed policies would adversely impact The Bahamas. Still, the Bahamian masses have again demonstrated their myopic thinking with their whole-hearted endorsement of his presidential campaign and now his victory. It’s that short sightedness and lack of political savvy that’s proven to be our demise in the past and unfortunately, perhaps the near future.

Indeed, I, too, love Barack and Michelle Obama dearly. Through them we see ourselves not as we are but as we could be: sophisticated, power brokers at the top of their game. As a race, our relationship with them is personal. They are one of us. Their triumphs are our collective victory and their defeats, a source of pain.

Still, Obama has clearly stated his intentions to relax his stance on Cuba, easing a US trade embargo and improving relations with the Cuban government. When Cuba opens our tourism numbers will inevitably dip, to what extent, we do not yet know. It’s one of life’s simple truths; people love new things. A decline of any kind is something we can ill afford as our nation struggles to find sound economic footing. A new, attractive, culturally-rich destination is what Cuba brings to the table. The question is not whether Cuba brings competition, the question is how long will it take for us to recoup the ground we and other Caribbean nations will inevitably lose with Cuba’s opening.

Those who say Cuba will have no impact are putting their heads in the sand. Imagine, you and four friends sitting at a table about to share a pie. Another friend comes along and wants a slice. Of course, your piece will be smaller as the pie now has to be split six ways, rather than five. Cuba’s emergence has the very same impact upon the region.

Meantime, Obama’s contender, Mitt Romney appears much less concerned with improving bi-lateral relations with Cuba. Helping Cuba, he argued, only provided aid to the nation’s communist government, not the people. Romney had promised to correct Obama’s changes had his bid for the presidency proven successful. Maintaining the status-quo on the Cuba front allows The Bahamas more time to prepare for its inevitable opening.

Not only is Obama’s policy not good for tourism, the driver of our economy, it also puts our second economic pillar, financial services, in jeopardy. Since his days as a senator Obama’s position on offshore financial centers has been known. He even co-sponsored the proposed, Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act. He has brought pressure to bear on bank secrecy in overseas jurisdictions and has promised a tax haven crack down. For, Americans this is good news. It means more money is likely to stay in their economy rather than making its way into a Swiss, Cayman or even (gasp) a Bahamian bank account, trust or fund.

It’s been said that Romney wants to give tax breaks to the rich. Who do you think are the ones with the second homes and other financial assets here? It’s certainly not the poor and the middle class. For those who missed it the New York Times reported that Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Romney, came under investigation for failing to pay taxes. In the interest of balanced reporting I must disclose that some tax experts found the strategy they used “perfectly legal.” It stands to reason that Romney (who is from old money) won’t be the one closing tax loopholes any time soon.

These were thoughts racing in my mind as my daughter asked her seemingly innocuous vote question. Those should have been the thoughts racing through the mind of the average Bahamian.

Let me be clear, I write not to bash Obama as his policies are great for Americans. I write strictly to educate Bahamians. The Bahamas is in love with Obama. Obama is in love with America (and rightly so). So where does that leave us? My people, it’s time for us to progress beyond knee jerk reactions to race and other such matters and begin to exhibit some logical, reasoned thinking.

Americans did it, when the bucked the world trend of incumbents losing the government due to the poor state of the world’s economy. Obama might not have done all that he promised, but Americans demonstrated their understanding of why he was unable to deliver. They did not hold a stagnant economy against him. Their vote showed a more medium to long-term economic outlook, as opposed to the short-term, knee-jerk approach the mass majority of Bahamians have relied upon.

I expect those of you reading this to agree (to some extent) with me because you can be reasoned with. I know this because even now your eyes are caressing the words that I write. You, dear reader, are knowledgeable, but what about our masses? Over the years they have systematically tied us to governments that did not have our best interests at heart. How do we reach them? How do we reason with them? When will our people become as politically mature as the Americans we love so dearly? Will it be my day, or that of my daughter’s, or her children’s?

As I close, I leave you with this: we will not see true change in our little Bahamas until we begin to encourage others to think more critically about the issues. It’s time for independent thinkers to rise up and espouse views that are not politically correct, yet no less sound in their reasoning. Let’s thoroughly vet issues from a bipartisan standpoint. Let’s digest rather than dismiss positive criticism. Above all, let us be Bahamians first and […..insert the political party of your choice here….] second. In the end if that means going against the party you’ve supported all your life, then so be it. The Bahamas can no longer afford for its citizens to be mindless sheep.

T.K. Robinson

Written by Jones Bahamas

One Response to “Letter to the Editor”

  1. TJ says:

    Bahamians, as well as other nationalities outside of the US have the right to express favor or rejection for a presidential candidate. Ultimately we did not and will never vote in an American election.


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