“Who (Character) Should be our next Head of State” by David Bowen

Barbados, have you given thought, serious thought, as to whom you would want to be your next head of state? I am not talking of the personality. I am speaking of the character of that personality.

David Bowen was campaign manager to Peter Phillips in 2013 and 2018 general elections

David Bowen was campaign manager to Peter Phillips in 2013 and 2018 general elections

There is an ungodly rush to move Barbados towards republican status. It is a move of major, national significance, and as such, every effort should be made to ensure that Barbadians are fully involved in the process.

While we remain unsure, even at this late stage, as to the type of Head of State we will have, we do know that we will have one. The question therefore is, what personal characteristics should we require and demand of such a person?

Our new head of state must be someone we can trust and who trust us. They should have the confidence to take us into their confidence when making major decisions like this move to republican status. It is not enough to say political parties have all, on different occasions, supported such a move. The people matter, and, if “we is we”, then we also matter. And we must reject any notion that a select committee of friends and family can adequately capture our thoughts and present our concerns.

I trust and believe that Barbados will remain a democracy but ultimately such will depend on the tone and practices set by the first Head of State. Will there be an appreciation for or tolerance of opposing voices? Will there be unethical attempts to consolidate power by seeking control of civil and other institutions like the trade unions? Can we even guarantee that there will be a peaceful transfer of power when required?

I trust and believe that Barbados will remain a democracy but ultimately such will depend on the tone and practices set by the first Head of State. Will there be an appreciation for or tolerance of opposing voices? Will there be unethical attempts to consolidate power by seeking control of civil and other institutions like the trade unions? Can we even guarantee that there will be a peaceful transfer of power when required?

What about the question of integrity and the determination to ensure that our resources are safeguarded through the stamping out of corruption? Will the necessary legislative framework be put in place? Will there be abuses of the majority position to enact legislation that is against the moral grain of our society?

There is much to think about, and we absolutely must now avoid the temptation to focus only on the person or the personality and not the character.

Barbados, your democracy, your way of life and your future is at state. Take warning, we must know who we are choosing!

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