Among all the eight confirmed candidates running for president, we have not seen any platform from any of them.
First, what is a platform? A platform is a statement of belief, philosophy, plan, policy or strategy. A platform during a political season is one in which the candidates state in essence what they pledge to do for the people in their particular constituencies and in the broader national spectrum. Take someone running for the House of Representatives from District No. X. The candidate should not be concerned only about his particular district alone, but about other neighboring districts, for the same things that affect his, affect other districts. It is important for a politician to cast a long shadow, or have a long view of the problems affecting the wider spectrum or the nation.
How could one running for Representative of any District in Montserrado County not be concerned about what is happening in the nation’s capital city, Monrovia? Should there be an outbreak of anything negative in Monrovia, and the Representative is traveling in another county or abroad, he or she will be asked about what is happening in Monrovia.
The answer cannot be “I don’t know because the problem is not in my district.”
A politician should have foresight and a grasp of national issues and be prepared to discuss them anytime, anywhere. Such a politician will be one day on his way to being considered a statesman.
Why a platform? Because no political candidate can run in a vacuum (emptiness, void).
There are people with needs; there are community problems to be solved. The candidate, in order to become relevant and be seen to be responsive to the people’s concerns and needs, must, therefore, address these needs and concerns.
The 18th Century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau called this “The Social Contract.” In his book on the subject, written in 1762, he theorized about the best way to establish a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society.
The Social Contract, or “principles of political rights,” helped inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe, especially France. The book argued against the idea that monarchs (kings and queens) have that all-powerful right. Rousseau insisted that only the people, who are sovereign, have that all-powerful right.
That is why we have always considered the so-called Code of Conduct a travesty (mockery, sham) of justice.
You mean with ‘all the book’ some of our leaders have learnt, they do not know about Rousseau’s Du Contract Social which, like the Magna Carta, is one of the basic principles of democracy? No wonder Mr. Justice Phil Banks was one of the two that voted against the Code of Conduct. The man studied Political Science under the likes of Dr. Amos Sawyer, and Law under Cllr J. Dossen Richards, who was so brilliant that he was acclaimed to have known most Liberian law by heart. Banks then went on to Yale, the world’s preeminent Law School, where they must have taught him more about the thinking and works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
You see why we are calling for political platforms of all the candidates, especially presidential ones? We want to know for sure where they stand on issues—all issues, including democracy and the rule of law—so that when tomorrow they get the power they are seeking, we will be able to hold them accountable.
We believed Ellen when she told us she did not want an “imperial presidency.” But that precisely is what we have now got—a system in which the Executive and the Legislature can tell innocent, qualified, Liberian-born citizens who have absolutely no criminal record whatsoever that they cannot run for public office because of a contrived (artificial, manufactured) law; which again, our very Supreme Court says is not unconstitutional.
On the contrary, Article IV of the Liberian Constitution stipulates only three conditions of eligibility for the presidency or vice presidency:
“a) a natural born Liberian citizen of not less than 35 years of age;
b) the owner of unencumbered property valued not less than twenty-five thousand dollars; and
c) resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election, provided that the President and the Vice President shall not come from the same county.”
Is there any mention of anything called Code of Conduct in these constitutional stipulations? If there is none—and indeed there is none—then the Code of Conduct law is unconstitutional.
To all candidates running for elective office, we want to see your platforms so that we may share them with the people, so the people may know what you stand for and the promises you make before they elect you into office.