For the most part, Bahamians are peaceful about their political support. But for some of us, we take our support or desire to please a particular politician too far. Election violence is not foreign to The Bahamas. It just has not risen to the scale we have seen in neighboring countries. But that can change IF our leaders do not take deliberate steps now to make it clear to their supporters that violence and intimidation of any kind will not be tolerated or rewarded. New Providence in particular is a powder keg in some respects. Tensions can run high, even in our everyday interactions with one another. When you add in the kind of fervor that is stirred up during election season, violence can become the inevitable outcome – especially with so many desperate or power-thirsty people out there who see their Party as their livelihood.
The thing about violence is, you can start it, but you will not be able to control how it explodes once it gets started. And in the end, innocent people fall at risk of being hurt or worse. The leaders of the three major parties in this country should come together and agree to not only make a national statement imploring all Bahamians to conduct their political support peacefully, but they must also put their supporters in check behind the scenes. And political leaders must be very careful of the rhetoric they spew either publicly or privately during this time, because supporters do not always take things in the way you might intend – and when they choose to act violently or threateningly on the things you say, you cannot simply distance yourself as leader and claim that you never told them to behave that way. The 2017 Election is going to be very intense and everybody wants to win. What Parties are prepared to do to win largely remains to be seen, but actions must be taken now to prevent the electoral process from becoming marred by violence and voter intimidation.