In the contemporary Liberian society many people often misconstrue the meaning of politician and define it in any way to appraise their political agenda or at their individual levels of understanding. I hesitated once in addressing my audience when this question, “Would you consider yourself to be a good politician for Liberia” was posed to me. First my mind focused on Webster’s definition, but remembered quickly that my mother and sister who couldn’t distinguish between a pen and pencil, and even first time in Monrovia were in the audience. They are just tied to the woods and visit the rural town where they reside once or twice during a year, that is, on the Christmas and New Year Days. Not only my parents, but such people form the nucleus of the Liberian society. To state the literal definition of politician I considered using demonstrative teaching method in the Liberian parlance.
- If politicians are those who ride the most expensive limousine cars and move with terrific speed splashing mud and water or throwing dust on every body with little or no remorse conscience, wear the latest expensive fashion in clothes and jewelries, smoke the giant size cigar, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those with sugar coated tongues and gallop up the stage from left to right with numerous promises and forget shortly before taking seat, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who prioritize their personal interests on the detriment of the masses, steal our inheritance with absolute impunity, make people to live in abject poverty, while their children attend “King’s School” abroad on the expense of the tax’s payers money, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who after ascending to power remove the ‘m’ from masses and address you as assess, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who are lead by remote control and shift blame on everything in administration, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who love to all the women, whether old or young or ugly or beautiful and exchange sex for job, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who wage war and massacre thousands innocent women, children and helpless elderly people, cause another thousands internally displaced or forced them into exile in order to perpetuate their way to power, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who can’t read and write usually use interpreter to express their personal views and grievances in this modern era, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are wealthy people, but limited in scope and in identification of needs and progress, depend on their fortunes and treat people below human dignity, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who directly or indirectly steal the benefits from our resources and transfer the amount in foreign accounts, and when caught diabolically paraphrase such heinous crime or stealing as embezzlement, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are our old guys who continue to serve from one administration to the other and shift blame to the hierarchy of the leadership when one administration falls, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who given the chance to power prioritize their personal interest other than the state, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are tall and handsome or beautiful people and easily recognized among people like King Saul in the Old Testament Book of King or huge and tall with big gut like General Idi Ami of Uganda, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who graduated from University with mere high average in political science or other human relation courses, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are loyalists or gravy-seekers who follow by the way of the winds, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are very stubborn people who are difficult to compromise political differences, and always vow to fight until the last person vanquish, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who employ people on account of nepotism, favoritism, sectionalism, tribalism, and bribery, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who disregard their primary state duties and family obligation and sleep regularly in the bottles of wine and drugs, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who after coming to power impose their ways on the people and refuse to come down, then I am not a politician;
- If politicians are those who when elected dethrone the Liberianization policy and align with foreign expatriates to exploit the country or engage foreign elements to cover up their mishandling deals, then I am not a politician.
Who Then Is A Good Politician?
A politician, in our term, is someone who according to President John F. Kennedy will say, “Ask not what Liberia can do for you, but ask what you can do for Liberia” to restore our glory in the community of nations, and differs diversely with the outlined characteristics.
Someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people, i.e., their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and liberties, someone who prioritizes the rehabilitation of our abandoned feeder roads and dilapidated highways including our entire infrastructure damaged by the civil war. Someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad in the African sub-region and the world as a whole.
Also, someone who according to Henry David Thoreau will champion the human spirit against materialism and social conformity”, and in the service to the people, adopts the philosophy of “rather living in a private Hell than a public Heaven”.
A politician is someone whose qualities can’t be equated to a wife, for the qualities required for a good wife can’t be gained from one woman. Some people therefore become polygamists to satisfy the lacking needs, while others employ caretakers to supplement. If you married a woman for her wealth, just forget about her role as housewife or for her beauty, ignore her role as an adviser in business or cheap labor on the farm, etc. Subsequently, a chief politician must (and not should) be the custodian of knowledge and wisdom and be able to direct the affairs of the state at any time and in any positive course, and not someone whose qualities can be compromised and substituted with any other subordinate one.
He or she must be someone who knows the good, like according to Socrates said, “If one knows the good, one will always do the good. It follows, then, that anyone who does anything wrong doesn’t really know what good is”.
Note: As we gradually approach the polling day or prepare the process, with still forty-three contending PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS and some still emerging, this article has been written to educate the Liberian public on the kind of political leadership to choose. It is intended as a poem to be recited by school children to enable people define politician in a more literal way.
About the Author:
The Author, Sonkarley T. Beaie is a Professor of Demography and Statistics at the University of Liberia; Presently on Sabbatical Leave in Georgetown, Guyana and Serving as UNV-Demographer. Contact e-mail : email@example.com