By K. Koiquoe Wilson - (Oct 1st 2005)
"...The reality is that when the U.S. fails so miserably as described, it has the wherewithal to recuperate in due course in view of its mundane omnipotence. By contrast, Liberia exists constantly under “the sword of Damocles.” Failures of even minuscule magnitude result in war, anarchy, inhumane abuse of human rights, heinous killings, debilitating poverty, etc, etc. ...."
As we stand at the precipice of yet another democratic election, it is incumbent upon all Liberians to conscientiously exhibit the utmost optimism in their conversations and supplications with regards to the future of Liberia, however cautiously one may choose. Exuding a sanguine dream for a better Liberia, be it quixotic or not, should be deemed morally imperative of every Liberian at this time. It is said in the Bible that when God ordered Joshua to circle the city of Jericho for seven days before attacking, they were to do so in silence to ensure that they did not speak ill of God’s plan. Words have such tremendous power and casting any aspersion on this plan, as people are liable to do, would have had an adverse effect. From an ethereal, hence spiritual perspective, we must ensure that our words bless the future of Liberia as the Bible exemplifies that this is the circumspect course upon which to embark. We must refrain from interjecting apocalyptic words in our conversations if the renaissance that we all hope for Liberia is to materialize.
Be that as it may, from an earthly, hence pragmatic perspective, it is also morally obligatory that we engage in a comprehensive analysis of this system of democracy which we have accepted as a panacea that impacts every aspect of our lives, be it social, economical, political, cultural, etc. For instance, what factors of our democracy have changed since our last iteration of the process that will ensure optimal results in future elections. In retrospect, we have been through several iterations of the democratic process, yet our country is now in a deeper morass than it has ever been in. It is said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and anticipating a different result. This begs for an introspection of our practice of democracy to ensure that we are not practicing insanity as opposed to prudent democracy.
Proponents may argue that democracy is intrinsically prudent thus prudent democracy evokes a redundancy of sort. But even the great exponent of Democracy, the United States, has modified the generic template of democracy to spawn their current, hence prudent variation, the electoral college. The United States acknowledged the need to adopt the electoral college variation of democracy because smaller states were at a disadvantage in the election process. This implementation renders the “majority rules” theory somewhat defunct seeing George Bush defeat Al Gore in the 2000 election with fewer overall votes. Are their problems in our democratic process that warrant a Liberian variation or does the democratic process in its vanilla form, which is akin to high school adaptation, the most judicious implementation of democracy for Liberia?
Myriad arguments can be made for adopting a Liberian variation of democracy and not blindly emulating the democratic template in its archaic form. For instance, given what we have seen in recent years, it is not untenable to assert the paradox that the U.S. practice of democracy could be deemed one of the most replete with corruption, be it legal or moral corruption, in the world. Yet, we blindly emulate the U.S. democratic system at our peril. Before endeavoring to elaborate upon this premise, it is necessary to present a succinct look at the anatomy of a system in its generic form as it is informative to expound upon the corrupt practices of the U.S. democracy from a system’s perspective.
Begging your indulgence in proffering a simplistic anatomy of a system from the esoteric realm of computer science, there are three essential components to a system, namely the inputs, the processes and the outputs. Each one of these components is sacrosanct where the optimal result of the system is concern and should be made inviolable. The quality of the output of a system is directly proportional to the quality of the input. The contamination of any aspect of these components will result in the abject failure of the system. These axioms gave rise to the widely used acronym in computer science, GIGO, garbage-in [to a system], garbage-out [of the system]. These are maxims that transcend the realm of computer science and can be transposed upon most any system.
Projecting our rudimentary system anatomy to elaborate upon the paradox that the U.S. democratic practice is one of the most fraught with corruption in the world, let us view recent inputs, processes and outputs of the U.S. democratic system. Note, this paper is rather extemporaneous, thus makes a cursory analysis of the questionable practices of the U.S. democratic system. A more in-depth treatment could present even more substantially corrupt components.
One of the most egregious inputs into the U.S. democratic system was the proffering of George W. Bush as the republican standard bearer, hence the eventual leader of the free world, by the very sanctimonious republican party in the 2000 election in view of his embryonic qualifications. I must state for the record that I am an advocate of neither the democratic nor the republican party
It is a very daunting fact that has been widely reported and admitted that until the age of 42, Mr. Bush lived a very self-indulgent life in which drug and alcohol were inexorable companions. Until this time, Mr. Bush conducted himself as a professional transient which involved numerous failed jobs and business endeavors under the auspices of friends of his father. His very decadent lifestyle saw him unabatedly in a state of chronic inebriation.
After Mr. Bush supposedly found religion at age 42, his most prominent jobs included numerous failed business ventures under the patronage of his father’s Arab friends, his co-ownership of a baseball team, which was acquired from a friend of his father, much to the chagrin of more substantial bidders, and the governorship of Texas, a sinecure position which he obtained with the blessings of friends of his father, both republicans and democrats in Texas. Note, the democratic patriarch in Texas opted to neglect the democratic candidate and throw his support behind George Bush in view of their “old boy network” connection. The Texas governorship is sinecure in that most power are vested in the Texas legislative body whereas the governorship is relegated to pomp and circumstance. In essence, all of Mr. Bush’s accomplishments were acquired under the aegis of friends of his father.
After only a decade of a haphazard and lackluster career, these contrived achievements, or lack thereof, were to propel Mr. Bush as an input into the democratic system in contention for the office of leader of the free world. If one were to consider all of the aspirants for the republican party’s nomination, it is easy to conclude that from the party’s perspective, they were not interested in a candidate of the highest water, per se. They very selfishly jostled these more competent candidates out of the way, John McCain for example, using various artifices. They were interested in George Bush because he had a recognizable and popular name of an ex-president, his father. This is a deceptive leg-up in politics as there are gullible Americans who vote simply based on name recognition. Some even thought they were voting for his father, the ex-president.
Given these sets of circumstances, what in Mr. Bush’s past could have prepared him for arguably the highest office in the world? Leadership is not an epiphany that arrives at one suddenly or through some process of osmosis, but a comprehensive convergence of a lifetime of intellectual and empirical preparedness. Mr. Bush’s ascendancy to the leadership of his party was not based on his leadership prowess per se. It was strictly out of his party’s cupidity for power, seeing the deceptive built-in mechanism, his name recognition, that would deceive people into voting for him and the campaign war chest that he had accrued through the munificence of friends of his father. This I believe was an unconscionable failed input into the democratic election system.
As we stand at the threshold of yet another election in Liberia, rumors and innuendos abound vis-a-vis the two leading candidates. In the case of Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, it is alleged that she was a chief architect and financier of a war that saw Liberia in a conflagration, callously killing innocent men, women and children; the consequence of which will persist for generations. Allegedly, this was all in the interest of furthering her personal political ambition. In the case of Mr. Weah, his qualification, hence competence is being brought into question. In a robust democratic system, as envisaged, these are questions that should have been long clarified as inputs into the system. If these allegations are remotely accurate, we stand at the precipice of electing either a war criminal or a charlatan. How reliable is a system that countenances such flawed inputs at its very onset?
Does this not illustrate the need, especially in a country like Liberia, that some sort of mechanism be instituted to ensure that inputs into the democratic system are not encumbered by charlatans? Is it not logical to expect that aspirants to the highest office possess some rudimentary knowledge of the function of the office which they seek to occupy? Stringent criteria are imposed upon doctors, lawyers, electricians, etc., even after they have endured exhaustive trainings in their fields. The number of people whose lives they affect is an infinitesimal fraction in comparison to the generations that could be affected by a president. Yet we do not demur to the holder of the highest office being relegated to merely a perfunctory popularity contest.
There are myriad moral and legal contamination of the American democratic system processes that could be cited, but in the interest of brevity, these enumerated few should suffice. An abbreviated list would include the immoral denigration by the republican election machinery of Mr. Bush’s opponents. In the case of John McCain, a legitimate war hero and a long time United States senator, he was portrayed by his fellow republicans as being an enemy collaborator in the war, as being mentally unstable and having fathered a black baby, amongst other flagrant charges. The immoral denigration of Mr. John Kerry, a legitimate war hero, and a long time United States senator, as being deceptive about the war medals that he had earned, even proffering in spurious campaign advertisements that his battle wounds were self-inflicted.
Note, when the U.S. needed its young men to go to war, these two intrepid senators, in the prime of their youth, volunteered to serve their country, both winning the highest medals of honor for their valor. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, was sequestered in the “Champagne Unit”, a nominal, champagne-drinking unit in Texas that comprised of able-bodied children of the affluent who intended to evade going to war. Yet, through the sophistries and chicaneries of the republican election machinery, it was the records and temperaments of these honorable men that were in question. How can the system of democracy countenance such immorality yet the practitioners of the system claim to be of moral bearings?
The world witnessed the election debacle in Florida, a brazenly orchestrated assault on the democratic process. Ballots were deceptively designed to duped voters into voting for Bush; names of innocent blacks were put on felon lists and distributed at polling stations to preclude them from voting; state troopers were deployed tactically to intimidate blacks and impede their travel to voting stations; overseas democrat ballots were disposed of by republicans; ultimately, the republican-dominated Supreme Court selected a president of the United States; etc, etc.
Some of these problems were supposedly to be remedied by the next election cycle by the use of electronic voting apparatus. The CEO of Diebl Systems, a devout republican supporter, had the temerity to enunciate publicly that if his company were given the contract to produce the voting machines, he would categorically ensure that George Bush won his next term. As a student of computer science, I can state definitively that that is an underwhelming task from a computer perspective. His company was given the contract in spite of this public pronouncement and George Bush supposedly won wherever Diebl machines were employed, even in heavily democratic precincts This is exemplary of the moral and legal corruption in the democratic process with absolute impunity.
What are some of the failed outputs of the democratic system in recent times? Ultimately, the arbitrary policies of the current administration saliently comes to mind. Mr. Bush’s first failed policy was, like children in a candy store, he and his ravenous coterie determined that the country had too much money based on the trillions of dollars in budget surplus that had been accumulated by the previous administration using prudent fiscal policies. They ravenously devised a redistribution scheme of the surplus in the form of tax returns, of which ninety percent went to the top ten percent of wealthy Americans, namely benefactors of the republican party. This was a reciprocity promised them by Mr. Bush for the largess they had bestowed upon him in the form of a one hundred million dollar campaign war chest. This forthwith sank the country into trillions of dollars in deficit, setting the dubious precedence as the largest budget deficit the country has ever seen. There now exist the greatest disparity between the rich and poor since the great depression, and an increase in poverty for four successive years. A resoundingly failed output of the democratic system.
After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. justifiably waged a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Mr. Bush’s proxies, who had their own grandiose and mercenary agenda for their hegemony of the Arab world, cajoled him into believing that it would be more provident to fight a war against Iraq, a country that had no complicity in the attacks against the United States. In view of Mr. Bush’s lack of intellectual gravitas as compare to his advisors and his demonstrable inability to analytically discern this farce for what it was, he acquiesced to the biddings of his mendacious handlers. They had fabricated a story about Iraq‘s possession of weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for going to war.
It is known that in their eagerness to leave Afghanistan and go into Iraq, even though Ben Laden was besieged by the U.S. military in the mountains of Tora Bora where he could have been captured, they opted to withdraw the U.S. troops and send in the locals, some of whom were Taliban members thereby lending to Ben Laden‘s escape. Today, Ben Laden, who waged the most vicious attacks on American soil and continues to kill Americans, is still at-large and has been lionized as an iconoclast of the great United States. Al-qaeda is now making a resurgence in Afghanistan. This is a catastrophic failure of leadership and of the democratic output.
This ill-advised war in Iraq, that was concocted based on the doctoring of intelligence and a labyrinth of lies to the American people and the United Nation, is profligately costing the United States one billion dollars a week, approximately three hundred billion dollars in tax payers’ money, thus far. An inordinate portion of this money is unabashedly being funneled into the coffers of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Chaney’s private company, and companies of other political benefactors of the republican party. It is no wonder that Mr. Chaney was the most vociferous advocate of this war. It was recently reported also that about one billion dollars of the money spent in Iraq has been embezzled by Iraqi officials.
Amid this cornucopia of booty, American troops caught up in this quagmire in Iraq, all of whom are children of the poor and middle class, have to rely on their family to purchase needed bullet proof vests for their protection. Many have died because their vehicles do not have the necessary armor protection to shield them against improvised explosive devices. Under this administration, this great American military have to resort to parts from junkyards to retrofit their vehicles into contrived armor-protected vehicles. The administration seems to have no qualms about this, given the duration of the problem, but is more concerned about its reciprocities to its benefactors. It is not far-fetched to make the argument that young American lives are being sacrificed for the ill-gotten gains of these unctuous megalomaniacs, hence a reprehensible failure of the expected checks and balances of the democratic system.
For the first time in its history, the United States is borrowing money, on an on-going basis, to finance a war. Financially, the U.S. stands precariously at the mercy of Japan, China, Great Britain, amongst other countries that are its creditors. It is the legacy of the children of this generation that will have to be taxed to pay for these mis-adventures. What atrocious failure of leadership.
This president, while young Americans are being killed in Iraq in his ill-conceived war on a daily basis without respite, not to mention the thousands of Iraqis being killed, opted to take a protracted five week vacation. He would not even interrupt this vacation while a major American city was being submerged in water and thousands of his citizens were dying and starving in the most horrendous natural disaster that ever hit the U.S. This subjugation persisted for five days unfettered, while the world watched the inept leadership of the American Democracy in its inability to provide any degree of sanctuary to the afflicted victims. This administration has spent billions of dollars since the 9/11 attacks preparing for precisely such a scenario, but with the appointments of political cronies at the helms of key positions as opposed to experts who are truly conversant with these problems, the system was an inexcusable failure when “the rubber met the road.”
The head of the federal emergency agency, a former republican campaign worker with no proficiency in emergency management, failed very miserably in his responsibilities to the victims during this devastating hurricane. In view of this, he was tacitly forced to relinquish his position. Now to add insult to the injury of the hapless hurricane victims, the president has blatantly appointed his political henchman, Carl Rove, who has no proficiency in fiscal issues, to oversee the allocation of two hundred billion dollars for the renovation of New Orleans. This is to ensure further reciprocity to political benefactors. Reports suggest that there is already an on-going feeding frenzy of no-bid contracts to friends of the republican party in the affected gulf states.
Despite these lucrative no-bid contracts being allotted to friends of the republican party, the president has issued a decree that they do not even have to compensate their workers at the paltry federal minimum wage, but whatever wage these connected businesses deem necessary. These workers are the very people who have been made impoverished by the hurricane and have lost their every earthly possessions. Now they are been further victimized by being stripped of their rights to earn the measly federal minimum wage. This certainly makes you wonder what color is the sun in this administration’s world.
Mr. Bush’s inability at his job has now become abundantly manifest to the American people. At the time of this writing, his approval ratings for his handling of his job, the war in Iraq, the economy, the hurricane, amongst other key indicators, are at their lowest levels ever. They range in proximity to those of Richard Nixon, a President who was ousted from office for corruption. In addition, Mr. Tom Delay, the republican majority leader of the house of representatives, has been indicted for conspiracy in campaign money laundering. Mr. Bill Frist, the republican majority leader of the senate, is currently being investigated by the SEC for insider trading. Mr. Carl Rove, deputy chief of staff of the white house and personal confidant of the president, after two years of denying and millions of dollars in special prosecutor expense, has been revealed by a newspaper reporter as his source responsible for leaking the name of a covert CIA agent. This was done in retaliation of her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, investigating and reporting that the white house claim of Iraq’s purchase of yellow cake uranium, one of their claims for going to war, was a complete sham. Mr. Scooter Libby, chief of staff of the vice president, after two years of denying, has been revealed by another newspaper reporter as her source of the leak of the CIA agent’s name. These are supposedly the preeminent moral leaders of “the mother of all democracy.”
This condensed enumeration of failures in inputs, processes and outputs of the American democratic system was compiled on an ad-hoc basis and is just the tip of the iceberg. A more exhaustive study would definitively conclude that the U.S. democracy is one of the most inept and corrupt in the world. In spite, this is precisely the democratic system that Liberia seeks to emulate almost verbatim.
The reality is that when the U.S. fails so miserably as described, it has the wherewithal to recuperate in due course in view of its mundane omnipotence. By contrast, Liberia exists constantly under “the sword of Damocles.” Failures of even minuscule magnitude result in war, anarchy, inhumane abuse of human rights, heinous killings, debilitating poverty, etc, etc. These facts warrant the buttressing of our democracy through the implementation of laws that will serve as bulwark in making our democratic system inviolable, as the conventional laws do not tend to deter detractors of the system.
Given these facts, how can we prudently augment our democratic system to ensure optimal inputs, processes and outputs. The weight of this question compels me to divulge, as if this is not easily discernible, that I am no erudite scholar of democracy but rather an artless member of the laity. But from my perspective as such, I simply find it befuddling that, over and over again, we continue to rely on the desultory outputs of our current variation of the system and hope that serendipity will someday produce some messianic figure that will solve all of our plights. For posterity sake, we have to be more provident in rendering these problems moribund, less the volatile and fragile nature of our democratic system will prevail interminably.
This is not a pedagogical exercise on how to fix our democratic system as I simply am bereft of novel ideas in this regard. On the contrary, the idea is to implore Liberians to initiate incessant discussions about our democracy and not remain reticent until the dawn of an election to render charges and recriminations. It is my position that more stringent laws than conventional that make our democracy impervious must be originated. A case in point, if a person strikes another it is considered an assault. However if a person accosts an election worker while in the line of duty and strikes him, this should not be considered merely an assault but an assault against the state. Said should be dealt with as a treasonable offense in view of the consequence that the success of the perpetrator could have. This may seem draconian on its face but this is the language that hoodlums understand. The weight of the laws protecting our democracy should be so severe that one would think twice before flouting those laws. I believe once we are indoctrinated into this line of thinking, detractors will become less blasé in their contempt for our democracy.
If you have patiently labored through this writing to this juncture, what are your ideas for enhancing Liberia’s democracy? Perhaps my belabored treatment of this topic will galvanize more learned scholars to write prolifically on how to buttress Liberia’s democracy and not view this as a drudgery to be accomplished by others. Hopefully, meaningful changes can be recommended and eventually implemented in terms of the election laws based on your ideas before the next election cycle. It is my fervent belief that if the inputs and processes of our democratic system are rendered inviolable, its outputs will tend to be most optimal.
About the author:
Mr. K. Koiquoe Wilson is a software engineering professional. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering Technology from Northeastern University, a M.S. in Computer Science from Boston University, and a M.S. in Information Management from ISIM University.