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Whatboutism – an Op Ed from OBA approved candidate Dwayne Robinson

Definition of ‘whataboutism’: the act or practice of responding to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offense committed by another is similar or worse. (Merriam- Webster dictionary)

Anyone who follows politics globally or locally will know how common the practice of “whataboutism” is by some politicians. It cheapens discourse and robs the people of true transparency. I have no say in global politics, but I can and do demand better locally for Bermudians.

Bermudians are constantly subjected to “whataboutism” causing many to view politics as toxic and not something they wish to engage in. They see two sides constantly at each other’s throats, playing the ‘blame game’. Why is our political discourse like this?

Many say it’s the Westminster system, which by design pits both parties against each other. I concede that is part of it. However, I believe it is amplified by the PLP who utilize this as strategy to deflect and distract, so they can avoid public scrutiny whenever possible.

Two sides should not be pointing at each other constantly. The role of the Opposition is to question the Government for the people and obtain answers, so the people know their government is being properly scrutinized. It is the party that is in Government’s job to lead the island and to answer questions from the Opposition and the populace. Trouble begins when the Government points the finger back.

The Government points back because it is seeking to shift the focus away from its decision making. However, this redirection of focus causes the community to take their eye off the ball – looking away from the decision that is being taken by the Government.

Why can’t the PLP get out of election mode and start answering the hard questions? Is Bermuda happy with this “well at least we are better than the other guys” attitude?

I know that many people simply want real answers and a vision from the PLP that does not involve dragging the OBA’s record through the mud. Our people want hope and the best way to provide hope is to offer real solutions, decisions that are backed with clear reasoning, thought-out numbers, and, most importantly, transparent. The PLP has been unable to deliver on their grandiose promises for the last five years even with a 30-seat super majority.

Yes, reviewing past decisions are crucial to learning and making better decisions. We must always have an appreciation for the past. However, pay attention when someone tries to shift the dialogue from current decisions by bringing up another past decision. Focus on the matter at hand. What is being decided now must take precedence because you cannot change the past.

I urge Bermudians to scrutinize the current Governments’ decisions based on their merit. The next time someone says but “whatabout”, don’t fall for it. Otherwise, we will miss what is right in front of us because we are looking behind us.

Let’s improve the standard of our discourse. Let’s re-engage our population in informed political discourse. An informed and engaged population will produce better and more capable candidates for politics, thus providing us with a higher standard of representatives. This must be the goal, to be constantly improving, and cultivating our next generations of leaders.