Power To The People? Liberians Have Come to Distrust Their Politicians
Politics have traditionally been understood as a math which favor political incumbents or positions of the established order but this understanding is crudely been challenged by an emerging reality, which has seemingly set out to dismantle political conventions.
The Arab Spring, Brexit, Rouseff’s debacle at the Brazilian Parliament, the failing of the African National Congress (ANC) in provincial elections in South Africa, Trump’s onslaught against the polls in the USA, the fall of Jammeh at ballot boxes in Gambia, Italy’s constitutional referendum, the surge of nationalist parties in Brazil, Germany, Italy, Austria, France, Netherland… points to an evolving trend which emphasizes a strange type of anti-establishment insurgency.
Before this decade a grand vote of rejection against ruling establishments were a relative rarity and most evolved from palpable trends.
For example, In the US Election of 2008, a win for any democratic candidate was an absolute certainty because America needed to move away from Republican policies which had dragged its economy into a battle with itself and had plunged its military into two “ill-conceived foreign wars”.
Similarly, in the 2005 German election, Angela Markel Christian Democratic Union’s victory was an inevitable phenomenon as Gerhard Schroeder, Social Democratic Party’s government played against itself when its policies battered the world’s third biggest economy and left it oozing with the wounds of unemployment rates at 30 percent.
Though there are exceptions, the overwhelming trend before this decade significantly favored “politics as usual”. There were pockets of instances where incumbents were defeated, but these were mostly artificial because it did not shake the scenarios which had entrenched political establishments.
In consideration of the referenced elections in Germany and the US, the shift of power changed hands between different establishment figures but kept the status quo in sedation.
This is why, at the turn of the decade there were not a prediction from historians or political gurus that hinted at the defeat of authoritarianism in The Middle East, nor did opinions from “experts” emphasized, even in blurred terms, the extrication of the European Union’s second largest economy.
Nobody, including our egos or political perceptions considered the demolition of establishment politics in the USA by an outsider, nor did we dreamed of a successful challenge against the governance of the ANC in South Africa or Jammeh in The Gambia.
But yet it all happened, and more:
At the start of the decade, in 2012, authoritarianism in The Middle East was undressed and plagued of its strength by actions initiated by people’s power, in 2016, the British, particularly the mediocre, defied the wisdom of the West and voted to pull themselves off the “shackles” of the European Union.
A far-right, white nationalist was preferred to succeed the US first Black President, the rights of ANC to govern in the provinces were concretely questioned by oppositions who never dared stand up decades ago and a 22-year rulership of a despot was silently put to a halt by the brunts of the ballot.
These disruptive events, the Arab Spring excluded, occurred in the space of just five months and it left establishment politics bleeding profusely.
Political observers and analysts were stunned at the intensity of the disruption as they pored over the wreckage and thoroughly scoured the fundamentals of these events to find out the actual determinant.
These were never expected or even considered, but yet it did happened, why?
In all of these events, the constant element is people’s power — the Arab Spring was ignited, not by foreign invading forces nor were Brexit effected by people of non-British origin — it was nationals of a particular nation exacting their inalienable rights.
The exhibition of people’s power have been an ageless scenario but it is more pointed now because people are comparatively more educated and exposed, with the sophistication of technology and social media playing a central role in this change in pattern.
A child in Monrovia can be easily radicalized by the lifestyle of a kid in Madrid because he’ll think he’s been deprived of certain amenities.
Therefore people are now more demanding of their governments.
But the problem is, most governments are not built to endure such scrutiny. They are controlled by establishments; a group of elites who control the central structures of the state.
Most of these establishment figures expand on the idea that politicians need only to play into the idiosyncrasies of political correctness, hold a public and private opinion on issues and serve interests which will keep them in power.
They have built a career of politics and have imposed upon themselves the reputation for having higher political consciousness — this is the status quo.
When this status quo interacts with the change in behavioral patterns of the people, it spikes agitation because the people realizes that government is not working for them, that they are a bloc of deceptive professionals who only knows how to get elected.
Because people, on balance, are inclined to change, they have turned to political outsiders for direction; they believe that people who have not been tested are more honest than those who have — this explains the rise of Trump and nationalist movement sweeping across the earth.
People do not only distrust politicians, they distrusts politics and this is the feeling, which, for better or worse, bring an end to the the politics that we know.
Ernest Duku Jallah is a bourgeoning economist studying at the University of Liberia and is an ideological supporter of the Student Integration Movement (SIM), a political party based on the campus of the University of Liberia. Email: [email protected] or 888523565/776969681