Presidential Politics, St. Barths Style
As in the United States, St. Barths will elect a President this year. And the race is wide open because the incumbent, Bruno Magras, has this week announced that he will retire from public service after decades of what is generally considered exemplary leadership of this island’s governmental affairs.
While the election here is just two months off, there are not yet any declared candidates, though two experienced members of the Legislative Council are expected to toss their sun-visors into the ring.
Debates? I doubt it. There is no local television, the only bumper stickers I have seen on the island are the 2008 OBAMA! stickers on the London family Jeep and the Diahatsu Terios. And you will never see a pol rolling up his sleeves, loosening his tie, and walking on the beach shaking hands. First of all, NOBODY here owns a shirt with sleeves, and second, NOBODY owns a necktie. Finally, most of the people on the beach are Romney supporters. You can tell by Speedos worn by the men, and the topless bikinis worn by their nieces.
Potential campaign issues?
Ugh……well, none have arisen yet, as far as I know, and as I look into my crystal ball, it’s difficult to tease any out:
The Gingrich “open marriage” issue will likely not arise here, because, how shall I put this delicately, the French don’t necessarily have the same views of marriage as do our Evangelical voters. And if a local candidate were charged with some sort of marital infidelity, I guess he could always handle it the same way Newt did: “Hey, I said I was sorry! Besides, I did it for my country.''
Santorum’s anti-choice, anti-contraception positions would never be countenanced for a moment here. The electorate would almost unanimously say, en Francais, “ Excuse me, but how is this YOUR business? Fuck off.” Or something like that.
Mitt’s income tax problems? Hey, nobody here pays income tax. Nobody. Never happen. Non-issue.
Ron Paul? You want to take away "socialized medicine" --a/k/a what has been described as the best health care system in world? You want to take away the St. Barths municipal hospital? Are you kidding me? Hah! And no candidate here would run on a platform of withdrawing our military from overseas, cause we ain’t got no military, no less military overseas.
The only U.S. candidate a local might channel is Stephen Colbert. After all, he did drop the pronunciation of the final “t”, which is big in these parts. I wonder if the “Not coordinated with Stephen Colbert Super PAC”, managed by (but not coordinated with) Jon Stewart is allowed to make a contribution to the St. Barths campaign. Or maybe Stephen would even consider running here. He cannot do much worse here than the 1% of vote he got South Carolina. I would ask him to get involved in the race here if somebody would send me his email address.
Issues? Well, there is always the economy. Big in the U.S. THE issue there. Here? Not so much. Why?
Let’s see: No income inequality because there is no income tax, (or if there is for some, nobody pays it), no real estate tax, no sales tax, not vat, no unemployment, an annual budget surplus. Hmmm. What’s the island S&P rating? It is not triple A. Indeed, the Island government, unlike parent France, lacks a rating altogether. Why? Because the rating is supposed to advise the borrowers. No debt= no borrowers= no rating.
Must be an issue somewhere here. Growth? Eh, everyone is against it, except for a little. Not much to discuss.
Let's see: The beaches did incur a great seaweed influx this Fall. Nearby hurricanes. For weeks in October and November, huge patches of the stuff littered the beaches. An issue? Well, I am told both prospective candidates have come out firmly AGAINST seaweed on the beaches. What's to discuss?
The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that Stephen Colbert could do well here. Stephen, are you listening? Your constituency is calling!
Okay, let’s be serious for a moment.
What can our U.S. politicians learn from the St. Barths experience?
Answer: We CAN reduce the size our government, we can balance our budget!
First, and most important: the press must STOP asking Newt Gingrich (and any other politician) questions that he does not like to answer. Very Unamerican. Don't they realize the First Amendment has language requiring the press to refrain from inquiring into hypocrisy on the part of our would-be National Leaders? Don't they realize that Peter Zenger went to jail for that sort of conduct? Don't they realize the same Amendment (which, for those of you non-lawyers, also provides for religious freedom) says very clearly (well, in its penumbra, anyway) that once a pol says "I have asked God for forgiveness," it is simply unconstitutional to inquire further? Where is the ACLU when we need em?
Second: The U.S. needs to get France to pay for our military, our health care, our social security, police, fire, and schools. Then we can impose a 5% tax on imports and tourists, automobiles, gasoline, and electricity usage, and then go shopping for the day. What could be simpler?
I suggest that if the United States Congress cannot accomplish this, we ought to fire them. Every last one of them. I suggest we give em from now til November. If they do not get the job done, outskey!
Well, it has stopped raining, the sun is blazing hot. Gotta get outside! I figure we have at least a half hour to radiate the mildew growing on our bodies before it rains again.