Use your vote, but do your homework first
Every election is important. Why? Because every individual who has the right to vote can choose freely to exercise their vote. It is a wonderful privilege.
It is your right to cast a ballot in a confidential setting for the person or persons you feel best represent your interests, not theirs.
Your right to exercise this freedom is personal choice without fear of interference, impediments to accessing voting centres, threats, arrests, imprisonment, and horrifically in failed states, death.
Your right to vote in Bermuda is inviolate. It cannot be taken away as long as we all fiercely protect this constitutional right.
Voting is being equal to everyone else in having your say as to who shall lead our country.
It is a freedom, just like all of our other freedoms in our democratic society; freedoms that we have because our right-thinking forebears imprinted those rights into our constitution and our laws.
It is the freedom to choose what we want, whether material, spiritual, physical, or emotional. It is the freedom to go where we want, care for who we want, live how we want, read, say and consume what we want and exercise the way we want. It is the freedom to define ourselves and strive to be the successful individuals that we have always wanted to be.
Is freedom a luxury, or is the above list just what we think we are entitled too?
In many societies, you cannot obtain individual liberties, at any price.
How should you choose your new representatives?
Money = power = politics
These three words can be used interchangeably in political circles. If you have one, you have the other two, no matter which order presented. Money, power, and politics can be used for the economic health and wealth of the collective people and the community, or for self interests and corrupt purposes.
So accordingly, what attributes should your candidate possess that he/she will always put your best interests, and that of the community before his or her own? We are referring to attributes that transcend all implied boundaries: race, colour, creed, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, disability, wealth, age, or origin.
1. Knowledge. The candidate never stops seeking information that will benefit all. That is the mark of a true expert.
2. Economic Experience. Let’s face it, experience counts when used for common good. Experience stimulates innovation and initiatives to grow an economy. Experience has no class boundaries; it is an equal opportunity attribute, experienced economists can range from the completely streetwise to multiple layers of formal education.
3. Influence and authority. The right kind of knowing and obtaining contributions from the right people generates positive outcomes.
4. Respect for oneself, for everyone whom the candidate serves, and to be respected in turn by the community.
5. Commitment and caring. An individual of character will always go the extra mile, no matter how difficult, or time-consuming a public matter involves.
6. Pragmatism. Economic choices are not always about pure right and wrong. Pragmatism is the ability and fairness to hear all sides of an argument, then to rule on the merits of the facts, deciding what course of action is the best for the community.
7. Integrity and honesty. The courage to share in wealth creation, not for personal gain; to do the right thing, always.
8. Ethics and a personal moral code. These are the most valuable attributes of all. A candidate without a moral, ethical code of honour will never represent your best interests.
Yes, readers. All great sounding words you could easily dismiss as more political rhetoric.
Quality, not quantity
There is no experience, educational, ethics, or difficult exam test to be a politician, such as the rigorous requirements to achieve the CPA, CFP, CFA licences, for instance. So, how will you know if any of your candidates possess the moral, ethical, honest, committed, experience and caring qualities of successful people? By their actions.
Not their words, not their dress, not their demeanour, but how they interact with others, and conduct their own lives.
Has your candidate ever
• managed money, or run a successful business?
• worked in the real world, reporting to an employer boss?
• lost a job and been made redundant?
• lost savings, a home or a pension in an investment scheme or a bad loan?
• experienced family and relationship problems that torpedoed financial planning?
Has your candidate ever had any real world experiences with successes, and the pain of failures?
Or are they a politician with no outside government experience?
You see. We know each other more than we realise. Small communities like ours observe each other as ordinary citizens many times in the course of a lifetime. We can’t help comparing and contrasting other lives to our own, it is an innate reflexive thought process.
You want your candidate to identify with your every day life challenges as you strive to achieve your financial security straight through into retirement — because they have experienced similar life path challenges, and know exactly how tough daily life can be.
Your job as a committed voter is to get to know your candidates and understand their motives for running for office.
You should feel comfortable regarding their fitness for the job, and question if their caring for the community and for your future financial success is genuine.
Also, observe how they conduct their lives and how they treat others.
And respect them for the commitment they are about to make while ensuring that their personal moral code puts your benefit first, above any and all successes they may legitimately enjoy in public office.
Hold your candidates accountable. Don’t forget, you are putting them in office — they work for you.
Be wise in making your choices.
Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders with multinational families and international connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: email@example.com
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