In today’s Liberia, it is nearly impossible to form an opinion on what the different political parties, or what I call (groupings of individuals aspiring for power) actually stand for in this country. They all claim to represent the interest of the “common man” and want to do what is best for the country and its people; But the question still remains, how do they differ, and what are their core ideologies besides election year platforms to build roads, provide electricity, fight corruption, etc?
In my humble opinion, there is little to no difference amongst the various political parties in the country. Despite the fact that more than 70% of the Liberian population are farmers or laborers in the agriculture sector, there is currently no party in Liberia that has as its objective to represent the interest of this substantial group of voters.
Liberian political parties are personality driven, as such when high ranking individuals (or even regular party members) are disillusioned with the leading personality/standard bearer, they often move on to another party/personality or become negatively vocal against their former party. I am often amused at the reaction of party members when a high ranking official abandons one party for another. In Liberia, such individuals are referred to as political prostitutes, but who can blame them? When parties are built around personalities and lack political philosophy and ideology, they offer nothing concrete to anchor their partisans; so at the end of the day partisans of the various parties can switch party as often as they like and go home and sleep sound.
The foundation of a political party should be its ideology; the values, and ideas that form the basis of its social, economic, or political philosophy, instead of mere presentation of election year platforms, or the battle cry that they are for the “common” man. Since the “common” man in Liberia is the majority voting bloc, no political party that wishes to ascend to state power will claim not to be for the common man. It seems as though platforms and political strategy have been confused with ideology. Political ideology allows political parties to transcend the leading personality/standard bearer for the moment. It is not sufficient for a political party to claim it is for the masses, because all political parties rely on the masses for their ascendancy to state power.
How can Liberia move forward when the parties campaigning to do so don’t have any concrete ideology? This may sound harsh, and some individuals may be offended, but I am of the opinion that Liberia’s political parties are not ideologically competent to lead the country towards a new paradigm, vision, and prosperity.
A platform does not substitute for political ideology or philosophy, rather the platform is used as a vehicle to concretize the party’s ideology and also deliver the party’s ideology, both theoretically and practically. What exactly are the ideologies of many of our political parties such as: CDC, UP, LP, New Deal, COTEL, etc? If you were to ask probing questions about many of these parties’ ideologies to their staunch loyalists, one out of ten may have some idea as to what the party is all about.
What would happen if a kru man became the standard bearer for the Liberty Party (LP), would the Bassa voting bloc that is currently committed to the party remain committed to the party without its leading personality who happens to be Bassa? What would happen if someone other than Mr. Weah became standard bearer of the CDC, would the new standard bearer enjoy the same zealous support as Mr. Weah?
The short lived merger between LP and CDC had me asking myself, what are the common ideologies or political philosophy upon which these two parties decided to merge? I have yet to get an answer from both sides that is satisfactory. When the merger was announced, some CDCians were saying the merger was necessary because, there is a strong possibility that Weah would lose to President Johnson Sirleaf again. Those on Brumskine’s side of the battle line were saying Mr. Brumskine can’t win without a merger with a stronger party. I have yet to find anyone on both sides to tell me whether or not the two parties are ideologically and philosophically aligned.
The unifying force for this merger seems to have been the defeat of the incumbent, which is nothing more than a politically convenient strategy that lacks ideological substance. So even if the merger were to succeed, the coalition would end up being a chaotic mess because it was not formed on substance. Political parties should have a clear ideology and use it as a unifying force, and the ideals and objectives of said ideology should be formulated on the basis of national economic interests.
A political ideology offers political, cultural, economic, and social blueprint for the forward progression of a nation, and when parties and their leaders who propagate such ideology are elected, they govern according their ideology and political philosophy, so if a party does not have an ideology and political philosophy, what is the blueprint upon which the groupings of individuals aspiring to gain state power in Liberia, will govern when elected?