The Foreplay of Running for Political Office

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Quite recently there has been a rousing interest in the political future of Liberia with the distant bells tolling the knell of the arrival of the 2017 elections. Consistent with the political habits of the political “wannabes” the interest of the Republic suddenly takes center stage when any election season is suddenly bearing down upon us, forgetting that the interest of the state and its people should be an unending saga preceding days long before elections and the day after the conclusion of any electoral process.

This gives flesh to the phrase popularized by Chea Cheapoo’s PPP party prior to Charles Taylor’s quest for the Liberian presidency in terming those brands of politicians as “political ricebirds” who migrate and swoon over Liberia, only during elections season. Lest we forget that the ultimate reward for success is timely and early planning; but in my country there seems to be a mental fixation that one does not have to plan ahead and put in motion any tested strategies for success but the illusion that success is achieved thru sudden urgency. This unpreparedness might have led us to the many failures even in our international sporting competitions. My people the glorious future is for those who prepared and work at or for it. So if you are thinking of any political engagement do your homework; either you plan for it now and get to know your constituents now or you forfeit those glorious intentions goodbye.

I decided to write this very short article about our electoral proclivities as we are once more being mesmerized by political pundits in the speculative game of “probables” in the ensuing political season of 2017 with surprising redemption armor for Liberia. The chilling reality in Liberia is that most of the potentials on the peoples’ political radar have not shown any piercing visionary leadership which any future political leadership at this time is begging for. Then I am hoping that our “wanabes” will now begin to demonstrate objectivity, integrity, sheer truthfulness and honest seizure with the rice and palm oil concerns of our people.

The season for pandering for political office is only a stone’s throw away; let us say less than twenty four months hanging time, and already we are being bombarded with rumors of not only potential contenders and self anointed political messiahs, mergers and expedient future collaborations, scheming, abject sycophancy, public relations ploys cum political planning. The political clowning will always be there as it is systemic in us to assume this gimmickry, underpinned by unpretentious deceptions, betrayals and often times darn right lies defining “Liberian Politics”—–promises of building pies in the skies; a season for promising what you know you really cannot accomplish.  So what is new? One would have thought that with the much trumpeted new dispensation we will now commit to better and REAL POLITIKS.

We have seen time in and time out the despicable practice of our “wannabes” to political office mushrooming when the political season is on the horizon, manifest and ostentatious dangling of themselves before the electorates, fueled by a very strange mixture of over-bloated egos, wanting to be wanted and trying to out- portray themselves as the “knights in white armor” singled out by some magical wand to be the political saviors of our time, even doing the St. Peter thing of denying their masters. Most disparagingly, our electorates seem to idolize personalities rather than judge past contributive performances, and misplace substantively by the immediate availability of the mighty “dollar” amount, oblivious to the legitimacy of the source; you see seeking for electoral support now degenerates to who can dole out to his constituents rather than the cohesion of your colleagues and constituents to support their parochial development needs. You are not judged by what funding one has sourced to impact the educational needs of the students or focus on the “HOW” one will coerce his companions if and when elected to approve the relevant bills essentially targeting his electoral domain? I am talking about improvement for qualified teachers, improvement of the learning environments and conditions. I am talking about any funding for the health needs of your constituency to cope with the often occurrences of infectious transmissible diseases? The public might not know, that you as a Legislator, cannot within your salary construct roads, but you can incessantly engage your constituents who in most cases might not even have consulted you, except when they needed and secured access to your funds to address their personal needs.

This well orchestrated foreplay of contemplating and pretending to run for high office gives a lot of political under-achievers, political cast-offs preceptors of political exclusivity, sometimes bearers of no credible track record of public office, the opportunity to preen their opinions on half-baked theories and mostly “pie-in-sky” manifestoes of political solutions. Some of our pretenders are suitcase politicians who are convinced that mere coatings of  being a “BEEN_TO” in the diaspora now bestows on you that cloak of entitlement pregnated with the commanding advantage over a “stay to”— home grown survivalist. Much more than that they even vent  “paper-thin”  populous rhetoric on the unsuspecting mostly minimally illiterate populace, pretending to provide a clamor of social answers that are mostly in their heads and their imaginations, so paper thin that even a 1947 third grader can put holes thru. They refuse to take lessons from the experiences of political veterans whose political wisdom and coaching could make an ocean of a difference. Hey what? That in the diaspora they do it this wayism does not transform itself to and contributive political plus in Liberia with her own political culture.

 We see the likes of former war lords still reeling from the explosions of the TRC’s expose of tortuous roles of “salvation” in our devastating civil crisis. They forget the adage that says “fool me first time, shame on you, but fool me second time, shame on me.” There will always come a time when cushioning behind their present statuses will eventually self exhaust their limitations and the chickens will come home to roost. We should learn to distinguish those who have their roles and have sought the forgiveness of the electorate and whose commitments and sincerity to help our country are determinable, tangible, demonstrative and sincere.  

Regrettably, some of those riding the crescendo of tomfoolery, with its companion undependability, encountered the wrath of their now believers. Lucky for us we frequently are often entertained to their intemperate fire-ups and kooky talk of corruption and human rights abuse, with claims of their constant “sashaying” with and being wooed by international operatives or perceived political nobodies and has now laced up their running shoes for a sprint at the much coveted  “Presidency” of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whose tolerances on most indiscipline confrontations under the aegis of the sanctity of Universal Freedoms on alleged  issues of corruption, and blaring the accusations of recycling of accused abettors of “cookie jar” offenders gives the impression of a soft political target. Make no mistake that TARGET is by no means soft. Just do not keep making the error of thinking that the leopard you may encounter is by no means a domesticated cat.

 It is no wonder we hear rumors of the well veiled intentions of a compendium of “loyal” partisans and members of the ruling cabinet, including some of whom who prize themselves of always reaching across the aisle to the grass-rooters when no such hands are reaching back, to them. Folks shine your eyes, oh; be aware of the ides of March. Let us all put our political toys away and start to have some refreshed and fresh political conversations on where we intend to take this country come 2017. Those conversations should now begin to take shape and poise to take flight. If there were any time to consult, the time is NOW.

The author: President Pro Temporare Emeritus of the Liberian Senate; Winner of the Primary of the Alliance of Seven Political Parties of the “Progressives”, 1997 for the Presidential Candidacy. Ranking Executive member of the Ruling Unity Party. Professional Geoscientist; former Assistant Professor of the University of Liberia; Former CEO of the Liberia Football Association and two time President of the Liberia Basketball Federation and a Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant of the AFL

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