On 11 May 2021, six young people participated in a debate sponsored by the Eyewitness News station and the University of The Bahamas on the general election and its themes. It drew a substantial audience on line and by live TV.
The debaters included Justin Smith of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP); Boykin Smith of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA); Willinique Wilson of the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM); Cara Ellis of the Coalition of Independents; Alexander Kemp of the Kingdom Government Movement (KGM); and Shaquille Johnson of the Bahamas Constitution Party (BCP).
Although many seemed to make fun of some of the participants who were clearly unprepared for their great moment in time, the presentations were in the main serious and they are the people who have launched themselves as volunteers into pubic service. No doubt, you will see them again and there is some potential in many of them.
However, you have to say that the woman who represented the Coalition of Independents seemed like she had come prepared for a reality TV show and was profiling for a date. The DNA candidate thought he was there for high school hijinks. Generally, they did not seem to understand the nature or the kind of country they live in. Just woefully unprepared.
The exception for the occasion was Justin Smith, who was the PLP’s representative. There was plenty of objection by PLPs to his participating in the debate. What on God’s earth would the PLP get out of a debate without the FNM present?
In the end, it projected Mr. Smith as a leader with potential. This is something he has been trying to project for himself for a long period of time, even seeking a PLP nomination, but prejudice being what it is in the society, you need a break through moment and a protector. He got that moment at the debate and the PLP’s advisors obviously protected him and coached him well.
So that debate is done. It is unlikely that the PLP will participate in any future debate without the FNM present. But for good or ill, the experience was an interesting one because people now see what we have in store for the future, if we do not take the training of young politicians seriously.