Why Liberia political parties lacked ideological bent?

And because Liberian political parties lacked any ideological bent, it is hard for the media to endorse political candidates during election circles. Sadly, our politics today, largely has become self-centered and void of principles—and it is not that principles are the ONLY guiding posts and scales to which politicians are measured on the high alter, politicians being politicians, but it helps to know which side of the divide they belong, for this helps to drive the political instruments and narratives around which the national narratives are centered, and hence that which is expected to drive the governing strategy and philosophy of candidates when in office. And it is not that some of our politicians do not believe in public service, some do, but often times they get passed over for those with loud big voices—as their messages hardly gets out, and the situation also not helped as parties are  splintered into so many factions instead of big tents, they get lost in the crowd.

For example, major political parties around the world are largely composed of either conservatives that leaned to the right of the issues or proponents of small governments, pivoting the traditional stations in society as a counter weight to liberals, who on the other hand differed on how the rich are taxed and what welfare is distributed to the poor, or how marriage is defined in the context of the constitution or the evolving realities of society—it makes sense therefore that major publications, radio personalities, columnists and national institutions will have divided loyalties for good reasons in support of political parties based on these ideological bents. But not the case with Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic that in every sphere should be leading the political debate on the continent, as far as institution building, in an effort to solidify the democratic gains that informed its creation, but no, like everything else our institutions are still infantile, weak and in disarray.

Largely personality driven, for the reasons mentioned above, our politicking has gotten skewed, because political ideology is basically lacking and policies nowhere near to be found as far as on the issues: on the military, taxes, welfare, health, education, the family, and basically a national dialogue on governance and a timely debate on taming the monstrously endemic corrosive act of corruption largely responsible for the poverty and thievery with which Liberia is saddled; it is time the debate is extended and tendered for a cogent defense in behalf of the rule of law as a core prescription and remedy for wealth distribution, and to fighting crime based on ideology in our estimation.

Countries in modern Africa exude belated wastefulness shamefully and has injected into the political atmosphere a cultural prejudice and ethnicity which seemingly flows into the political space, such that elected bureaucrats see their posts as personal fiefdoms. And this includes presidential and executive appointees, as patronage and impunity ruled. It is this paralysis that has robbed Africa, and especially Liberia of the kind of politics that inspires, and the kind in which politicians worked within the realm of policies with political ideology as a groundswell for effecting change during election circles.

“It is from this mindset, AND the lack of ideological balance, that most if not all political parties are merely seen as preying gangs,” according to a political science professor at the University of Liberia, “that the citizenry and society see our office holders as a bunch of greedy misfits whose only intention is to lay their hands on the national pie, and loot state coffers, as they crave power at the cost of the people.”

This view point however is not without fault. Because most political parties have no ideological bent, politics has been reduced to a headless chicken and a national pastime, in which individuals cross carpets every so often, merely because a bribe has been offered or because a side is seen to be the most popular, and not because of conviction. Principally, Liberian and African elections are largely won and lost on the basis of ethnicity, and sometimes religion, according to pundits. Today, many individuals are looking to seeing which political party has momentum, and it’s on that basis their loyalty will be driven during these 2017 elections. And, this is the sad commentary to which African and Liberian elections has evolved and accosted. political parties are institution driven, but it has been seen largely as a corporate registry for individuals, and in most cases sole proprietorships—to make profits, instead of public service and a national driven agenda for development!

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It is widely believe one of these men will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, barring any surprise

But for Liberia the trend must change. It is time major publications and media outlets supported and endorsed political candidates’ base on the policy prescription they offered, and not merely because of likeness or token.  It remains to be seen if the Liberian Listener will endorse a candidate or a slew of candidates this year—and if that is done, it will be based purely on ideological persuasions as an institution. And why not, when the New York Times and major publications do it all the time, with the trend popular in most western democracies, and gradually gaining traction in Africa. But a caveat must be sounded, that if our endorsement must come, it will be because of conviction and based on an ideological bent—and this is not to compare American and western politics with ours, but to evolve, Liberian politics must move above the narrow perspectives that has defined us for so long, it is time we fought for ideals, and its not that politicians will not let us down, they will, but it will be on their own terms, but at least we would be contributing to nation building sincerely based on this advocacy— that the lives of our people will get better with that kind of thinking—While the Liberian Listener has always been on the center and has placed arts as a major bulwark of its mission and intends to remain so, it will be looking at candidates a little bit to right of the political spectrum. Our endorsement may not come, or it may, or it may not matter, as we know we not a major news organ and a major player, but we hope the trend is sustained based again on conviction, and not inducements!

This is important for several reasons: to inspire our politicians to take ideological positions, and hence gain from the publicity we intend to offer—in essence, we seek a new political paradigm based on political ideology, and not based on personalities, as we have observed that some radio talk shows and newspaper columns have already endorsed certain candidates, while others explicitly have not done so, but quite evident, that their support is tilted based on their reportage. The fight to brightened tomorrow’s future, begin with this collective responsibility on the part of the media, to draw a clear line—by endorsing publicly those candidates that have the means to change Liberia without being bought—our politics will be better for it!

—editor

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