On paper, the politics of Liberia takes place in a framework of a representative democratic republic modeled on the government of the United States. As in the United States and other democratic societies, the people periodically entrust their governance rights to elected leaders who pledge to ensure that the wealth and resources of the nation are equitably appropriated to better the lives of the citizens. But unlike other democracies where policies and frameworks work to empower the people, Liberia’s paternalistic governance and political systems have engendered over the years an impoverished populace that continuously depends on a select few for their survival. Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine is a stalwart of the Liberty Party, the country’s current lead opposition party founded by her father, the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine. Like her father, Charlyne believes the people will only see a better Liberia and realize their full potential when they demand the change they want.
Speaking on a myriad of issues over the weekend when she featured on the SpoonTV online talk show, Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine said it is unfortunate that a system has been created in Liberia where the masses are depending on a few people for their survival.
“I think the system is almost intentional. We pay our drivers, nurses, teachers, police officers, and everybody else the bare minimum so they can depend on the big men and women to be able to give them small, small little things. It is almost an intentional system. I say, when the people are ready to change, the people will change. No politician will change the people. You cannot force someone to get their blessing. The people of Liberia have to demand better. Until the people say we want better, it will not happen,” the tough-talking founder of the CMB Law Group stated emphatically.
She said political institutions also bear the brunt of the paternalistic system because only a few individuals in political institutions usually underwrite the cost of running those institutions.
“We know that even financially in our body politics, usually there are one or two individuals who carry the financial weight of the institution,” Ms. Brumskine remarked.
Referencing her own political institution, Ms. Brumskine said during her late father’s term as a leader, he too, along with a few committed individuals, carried the financial weight of the party.
“Of course there were a few chairmen who really helped him; one in particular, I don’t want to call his name because he’s no longer with the party, he would really help my dad financially. Beyond that, Charles Brumskine was the one who did a lot of the financial work. Now we look at the institution. I think it is no secret that financially we are not where we used to be. But what does that mean? Does that mean we are going to fail as an institution? No! Does it mean we are going to pander to a few individuals who will have lots of money? No! What it means is that the people, the partisans of the Liberty Party, whether they are in Grand Bassa, Montserrado, they need to bring their little one hundred LD, their two hundred LD, their five US and contribute to the institution and buy in. This is the conversation we’re having around the table now. We’re trying to see how we can organize, so ordinary partisans can feel a part of LP,” she stated.
Explaining further how the Liberty Party is shifting from a political institution whose operations are financed mainly by few individuals to one that the ordinary members will have a buy-in, Charlyne said, “We have executive committees, we have the leadership and then we have the partisans. The partisans don’t necessarily have a say in the everyday operations of the institution, but they all should be paying their regular dues. The bottom line is, at LP we’re trying to do things differently. We’re trying to drum up the grassroots, from the everyday common partisans who troop at the party headquarter every day; women like Emma Coker, men like Joe Merchant, have them contribute and buy into the party, so they don’t depend on Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, Charlyne Brumskine or Steve Zargo. This is how we build a collective democratic institution.”
Changing the System through Free, Fair and Transparent Elections
Pledging her support to the Liberty Party, its executives and partisans, Charlyne Brumskine spoke highly of the reinvigoration that the party is experiencing under the current leadership, and disclosed that while she has no plans to run for elected office in 2020 or 2023, she will be fully engaged in politics to ensure a better Liberia.
“The party is doing well. It is very strong. We are being led by a phenomenal woman, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, who is currently the only female senator and one of the senators from Grand Bassa County. I think she’s doing a phenomenal job at rallying the troops. As you know, we lost our vision bearer, let’s not even call him standard bearer. He was the vision bearer of the Liberty Party. Everything that people know about the Liberty Party in terms of the institution was built from his belief. He built an institution on integrity. He built the institution on the four Rs, these four principles, which he passed on to his political sons and daughters, one of which is Nyonblee. In all honesty, she wears a very heavy crown, but I think she is doing a great job. She herself has experienced a devastating loss. Last year she lost her husband, and then a man who she called her uncle, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine. She is again running for senator, so she has a lot on her plate,” Ms. Brumskine disclosed, noting Senator Lawrence has the full support of every member of the Liberty Party.
“We will be in Grand Bassa County, ensuring that Liberty Party remains King in Grand Bassa, not because we feel entitled, but because of the work that we have done for Grand Bassa County,” she pledged.
Regarding her estimation of Senator Abraham Darius Dillon’s chances at reelection in Montserrado County, Ms. Brumskine enthused warmly about the cordial working relation that Senator Dillon had enjoyed with her father.
“He learned a lot from Cllr. Brumskine. Dillon is someone who makes you laugh. He has a knack with people. He’s doing what Liberty asked him to do, which is to stand up and show Liberians that there is an alternative, that there is a better way to serve. Dillon has a great deal of humility, that’s why so many people are attracted to him. He gets down with the average, common person. Brumskine knew how to get down with the most common people, and I think it is the same tendency that Dillon exhibits. I wish him the best. We will be running a pretty good campaign and he has my support. When he’s ready, we are going to be stomping the ground like we did in 2016, 2017, so that Liberty Party continues to hold on to our seat,” Charlyne stated.
On the issue of ensuring a free, fair and credible election, Ms. Brumskine said the Liberty Party, within the CPP framework, is ensuring that everything is done to mitigate and minimize fraud because she strongly believes that only through a credible electoral process can the people freely exercise their franchise.
“The question is to what extent can it be minimized? We know that when the ruling came down in the 2017 court case, it was clear that there had been fraud. The justices did not deny that. One of the suggestions that came out of the process was to clean the voter roll. Have we cleaned this voter roll yet? No. Can we do it as a private institution? No. The government must clean the roll. We must ensure that the voters’ roll is cleaned before the elections,” she stated emphatically.