With the launch of Bermuda’s Democratic Alliance on Thursday the online community has understandably been in a bit of a flurry of discussion about them. This has ranged from sheer expressions of enthusiasm on the Democratic Alliance’s facebook site, to more critical reactions elsewhere.
The popular forum BIAW has had a long discussion concerning both the Democratic Alliance itself and it’s choice of name, or, rather the acronym it prefers ‘BDA’ which some see as witty but potentially divisive in as much as it co-opts the shorthand for Bermuda. Most of the discussion on BIAW has focused on the apparent lack of substance provided by the Democratic Alliance, as well as an ongoing conversation between posters there and the DA’s de facto online representative ‘Full Fullish’ who has also posted here.
On Facebook the DA has left both the PLP and the UBP in the proverbial dust, both in terms of ‘fans’ and in the novel use of the sites features for incorporating public input. The PLP mostly pioneered the use of Facebook for Bermudian politics, setting up both an official site and supporting ones. The PLP’s former youth wing Progressive Minds also experimented with having online forums there to increase interaction between youth and Cabinet Ministers. Despite these early attempts, the official site is mostly inactive, not being used for announcements or interaction. The UBP’s Facebook site is even more restricted, being nothing more than an information page. The DA now has almost twice the amount of ‘fans’ than the PLP and close to three times the number of UBP fans. This in itself does not mean that all these fans are supporters of the DA, however I think it is fair to say the majority are. The DA has also begun exploiting the interactive features available on Facebook which is woefuly underutilised by the PLP and UBP. At the moment the success of the DA on Facebook seems indicative of their support amongst a substantial number of youth, especially the middle classes. Whether the DA is able to capitalise on this momentum or if this will contribute to an early flame out (enthusiasm with no direction) is to early to tell at the moment.
21square has two posts on the DA, the first one being critical of the Alliance’s choice in name, based on the argument that the acronym ‘BDA’ and its meaning were first developed through that blogs Bermuda wiki project. The second post, to date, questions the logic behind the launch date.
The newly resurgent Bda Longtail criticises the DA for the disorganisation that it is conveying, namely in its failure to get its frequently referred to former PLP members to show up for public unveiling. Bda Longtail cautions that if the DA isn’t careful it will rapidly be seen as little more than another UBP.
Beachlime doesn’t comment on the DA directly, however he vents his frustration (which I passionately share) with the overkill use of Obamist phrases. Obama this. Change we can believe in. Yes we can. Stuff like that. When they were put into public discourse they were fresh, if meaningless, rhetorical devices. Now they are just nausea inducing in their insipid lack of originality.
Triangle Tips criticises the vague political name that the DA has chosen, questioning what exactly is it an alliance of? He also criticises the apparent vacuousness of the DA’s platform (or lack thereof). The basic verdict put forward there is that if the DA wants to be taken seriously it needs to demonstrate how exactly it is different from both the PLP and the UBP, otherwise it will look like a bunch of disgruntled UBPers in new clothing.
Bermuda Fables provides what I see as the most detailed critique of the DA online to date. In general the DA is criticised for being overly reliant on flowery rhetoric rather than actually marking out what exactly they stand for. They are also criticised for failing to unveil their now almost mythical former PLP members that they keep nattering on about.
Much of the criticism online though has been more of disappointment or exasperation combined with a plea that the DA gets its act together and move beyond vapid rhetoric and clarify both what stands for and what it plans to do. Should the DA fail to articulate its own vision then alot of the initial enthusiasm that it has been able to generate risks evaporating as the chorus of it being little more than disgruntled UBPers in new clothes reaches a crescendo. Personally I believe that the DA is articulating (poorly) a liberal ideological position, and that it will begin fleshing this out in the coming days. At the moment I get the impression that they are just trying to appeal to people superficially in order to prepare them for liberalism. The only problem with this is that the political centre is solidly occupied by the PLP and UBP at the moment, and if they are not careful they will come across as little more than a hodge-podge of PLP-UBP policies rather than having an identity of their own beyond that of a fence sitter. Their exodus from the UBP does however present the potential that the bulk of the UBPs liberal wing has solidified behind them, leaving the UBP rump made up of the conservative wing, which could allow the DA to occupy the centre and push the UBP to the right. The other big challenge for the DA is articulating their position on the race question; so far they have come across with a mix of vapidity and UBPist approaches on this point.