Liberia—The Two Faces of Alexander Cummings: Public Neutrality, Private Endorsement, and the ANC’s Downfall By Alfred P. B. Kiadii

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Right before our eyes, we are witnessing the total implosion and degeneration of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) as it discards the notion that it is a genuine opposition political entity. While Alexander Cummings hurriedly moved to distance himself from this decision, he is a composite part of this rot that engulfed the ANC political formation; thus, his insipid, lengthy press statement attempting to explain how the decision was derived does not absolve him of responsibility. It only demonstrates epic political cowardice and poor judgement on the part of a man who is either consumed in delusion or one who is incapable of setting aside his personal ambition and accumulated grievances that attended his interactions with the Unity Party (UP) to support a ticket that in every measure is astute to that of the CDC.

Like his last stance in the 2017 run-off polls, Cummings has opted to endorse none of the two candidates openly, even though privately, he preferred the reelection of George Weah. He believes that, since Weah would be a disaster in the next six years, coupled with the notion that former vice president Joseph Nyumah Boakai would retire from politics; he is convinced that he will be the frontrunner in the 2029 electoral showpiece. This shows nothing but a lack of leadership and also goes to the heart of the assumption that for a long time, people from a certain political caste have been associated with the politics of Liberia. First, Cummings, by banking on Weah’s victory, which would automatically give him an advantage in the 2029 presidential election, is devoid of logic and lacks the kind of serious reflection that should be associated with long-term political strategy. The first problem with this assumption is that ANC apparatchiks toyed on the same argument in 2017, when their political leader and party opted to stay on the political sidelines, against all the logic of history, Cummings would emerge as the frontrunner in the 2023 elections. However, Cummings’ share of the national vote precipitously declined, accumulating less than two percent of the votes on October 10, 2023.

First, this decline shows that political variables are not immutable but are the result of objective reality, against the backdrop of the emergence of new variables and social forces in the political sphere. This demonstrates that it is easy to sit in the comfort of one’s home and make certain assumptions about politics and social phenomena, but it is difficult for these assumptions to morph into reality without the right objective conditions. Thus, political predictions must consider a rigorous understanding of the movement of history, its laws of motion, and the factors that influence politics and give rise to political actors in body politics. Thus, betting on this same assumption for future political endeavors is both the height of idiocy and shows a certain lack of political awareness those verges on the absurd and comical.

 

Connected to this perspective is the rather darker side which exposes Cummings for the hypocrite he is, thus making a mockery of the claim that he is a Liberian ‘patriot.’ Privately egging on the ANC to support Weah and hoping that the latter wins is unconscionable but exposes the extreme length to which Cummings and the folks in the ANC are ready to travel, even if it means the fatherland would implode, so that their standard bearer can satisfy his wet dream of becoming president. It goes without saying that wanting Weah to win with a full understanding of the adverse ramifications of that outcome only indicates, despite all grandstanding, that Cummings is in it for himself and not for the Liberian masses and country. No political leader interested in uplifting the people would prefer his country to be led by the least prepared, whose re-election would further sink the country down into the abyss because that would give him an advantage. Here, Cummings shows that he is no different from the politicians he constantly derides and clearly indicates that the underlying reason for his foray in the tempestuous world of Liberian politics is about achieving personal ambition as opposed to serving the people and delivering for them in areas critical to their existence.

 

However, if politics are connected to uplifting people and using levers of power to advance social transformation and ensure human flourishing, the task of any genuine political individual is to use the prism of the greater good in making decisions. In other words, individual accomplishments are incidental to the collective good and not vice versa. If that is the principle, it therefore warrants one to think in terms of whether a decision at any critical stage of the country’s political history would either negatively or positively impact the ‘wretched of the earth – citizens on the margins of society. This means that it is the height of political sadism and a major failure of leadership when one hedges their bets on the notion that the candidate who inflicted the most harm on the country should be re-elected as the leader of the country that is now a global laughingstock. It is this cynical approach to a critical national issue that while Cummings preaches about the nirvana that would be created if he steers the ship of affairs of the state, his quest for power is driven by the cyclical shift between ‘narcistic bent’ and that of political desperation.

Undoubtedly, it is a truism that politics in both bourgeois societies and post-colonial dependencies such as Liberia have usually been about political wannabees promoting themselves and mobilizing people behind political prospectuses that those espousing them have no commitment to implementing. Furthermore, it is also true that neoliberal politics lacks convictions and iron commitment to deliver on the collective aspirations of the masses. However, when a nation’s future is at stake, even personal ambitions or political advantages should be recessive to nationalistic thinking, as is the decent thing to do, considering how high the stakes are in the current run-off election. This, in fact, is not a radical position to take, as bourgeois nationalists such as Guiseppe Mazzini and Thomas Paine all understood this argument from necessity and national existence. As a result, we have seen the manifestation of this position in numerous historical situations in Africa and other areas of the Global South. Mr. Cummings and the ANC elected not to consider this simple principle when making decisions regarding the impending runoff election.

The other problem with Cummings’s refusal to overtly endorse anyone is the kind of thinking that has pervaded the politics of that cliquish dominant group, which has presided over the national leadership of our country for more than a century. This notion is rooted in the perverse logic that they are the natural leaders of the country and, therefore, rarely support any member of the popular group that vies for the leadership of the homeland, except in extreme circumstances, such as supporting the most incompetent, clueless, and corrupt elements from the popular group. The aim is to plunge the country into a consequential leadership crisis in order to reinforce the skewed perception that only this cliquish social formation is capable of providing sane and responsible leadership for the Republic. While this notion is loaded with contempt and a sort of paradigmatic classicism that gives impetus to oppression and domination, it partly explains why Ellen Johnson Sirleaf threw her VP and friend for many years under the bus and was elected to support the most intellectually unsophisticated and ideologically bankrupt presidential candidate in 2017. In the last analysis, it is this notion that also contradicts the claim of the ANC leader in building a society with all and for all upon becoming the president of Liberia. Historically, when a particular dominant group believes that the leadership of a society is their natural inheritance and that the people who are citizens of the society are historical objects, when an element of this minority group captures power, they use that power to promote the endogamous interests of the sect and build an economic and political regime to exclude the majority. History, not least the Liberian version, is replete with this variant of parochial thinking and approach to governance.

It is the last attribute of the dominant group (of which Mr. Cummings is a part), which explains the exclusion of people from national decision-making and political participation that characterized political regimes that governed Liberia during the First Liberian Republic and explains the emergence of progressive politicos to dismantle the structural system of domination, exploitation, and oppression that became the defining attributes of years of domination by the ancient régime. Cummings, either knowingly or unconsciously, through his actions since emerging on the `Liberian political stage give legitimacy to this sort of thinking and political action that was the basis for radical democratic struggles and grassroots mobilizations of the Liberian masses. This shows that, although Cummings preaches the liberal trinity of equality, fairness, and justice, if he ever makes it to the upper echelons of leadership in Liberia, his government would be gripped by the same crises that affected past regimes that toyed with such disgraceful and grotesque thinking.

Beyond that, the ANC standard bearer has been accused of being Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s poster boy, who is loathed in certain quarters of Liberian society. The implication of this accusation is that he is a male clone of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, ready to replicate all the discredited clusters of neoliberal policies that distributed poverty, disease, and underdevelopment to the Liberian people. Except for one in acute denial, Sirleaf is equally hated by grassroots supporters of the Rotten CDC, the collective opposition, and the Liberian masses, correctly assuming that she is a danger to the nation. Aligning with her, or news about Cummings in close association with her, is part of the reason his appeal to the people fell short of reaching many receptive ears. Openly coming out to endorse VP Boakai would have shown that he was his own man and had a level of political independence and a backbone required by a political leader. Second, it would have cemented the erstwhile coco-cola man as an avowed Liberian patriot, especially coming from the backdrop of the bad blood that existed between Boakai and Cummings, which led to the collapse of the CPP and subsequent acrimony and withdrawal of the UP.

Overall, by not overtly supporting anyone in the run-off, even though Cummings privately hopes Weah wins the elections, it shows that the ANC political leader has catastrophically miscalculated, which will adversely impact any future run of the presidency. This decision leaves Mr. Cummings isolated, battered, diminished, and totally irrelevant to the political process of the country, and would grossly affect him in the near future. However, this decision also shows that Cummings lacks a correct understanding of leadership and politics in Liberia, which is a major shortcoming for a man misrepresenting himself as the best thing that has ever occurred in politics in Liberia. This outcome also demonstrates that he does not see beyond his self-serving political calculations, and he would prefer Liberian polity to implode insofar as it would benefit him in future political contests. For this, Cummings will go down as one of the worst political figures of his generation, a man who feigns patriotism but a prisoner of self-interest, megalomania, and a special type of delusion of grandeur associated with people who reek of the dark triad and Napoleonic complex. He will also be remembered as a man who, when it reached a point to exercise decisive leadership and place the country above his selfish interest, shied away, and used a litany of incoherent gibberish to justify his wavering, inconsistency, and political opportunism. Hence, Mr. Alex Cummings’s decision has put the final nail in his vaunted political ambitions.

About the Author:

Mr. Alfred P. B. Kiadii is a Liberian who writes on current affairs in his country and can be contacted at [email protected]

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