LIBERTY PARTY – Reconciliation Speech by Charlyne Brumskine

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Good afternoon to all and Season’s Greetings:

One week ago today, my family and I commemorated the 2nd year anniversary of my father’s burial.  It was a solemn day for us, particularly in the wake of the turmoil that currently beiges the Liberty Party.  As you know, my father was the founding member of the Liberty Party, commonly known as LP.  The LP was founded on May 29, 2005 by Cllr. Brumskine along with the Late Jerome Walker of Grand Bassa County, the Late Able Volker of Grand Bassa County, Abdullai Kamara of Grand Cape Mount, Lamin Kpargoi of Grand Cape Mount County, Milton Quaye of Marlyand County, and Romeo Bartea of Grand Bassa County along with others.

Prior to the formation of the Party, Cllr. Brumskine’s vision was supported by men like the Honorable Fonati J. Koffa, Mr. Debar Allen, and Mr. Jah Fahnbulleh.  The Honorable Jeh Byron Browne, Mr. Jacob Smith, Ms. Mariah Fyneah, Mr. Nathaniel Toe were the backbone of the Vision Bearer of our great Party.  I begin with historical references of Liberty Party because many of us who are current members or new recruits do not have a full understanding of the origins of Liberty Party.  The history of any institution should stand as a solid foundation for its future.

The Liberty Party was founded as an alternative to the status quo.  Liberia was gearing up for its first national democratic elections after the brutal civil conflict.  My father sought to use Liberty Party as a vehicle to move from the old governance system to a new way of doing things. Brumskine had a desire for real change in Liberia.  His desire was to see change in every aspect of society in this country.  My father was one of the first politicians to actively support and assist women in the informal market sector move from the market stall to brick-and-mortar stores.

He believed in economic equality for all.  He believed in the idea of Liberianization and protectionism of certain industries in our country for the betterment of Liberians.  Thus, he created a political institution that would also prioritize the basic needs of the Liberian people.

He established an institution that was based on Christian principles but shared by our Muslim brothers and sisters.  He was a man who hailed from Grand Bassa County, but opened the Party to Chairmen from Grand Kru, Montserrado, & Lofa, counties.  He was a man of uncompromising principle. His yes was his yes and his no was his no. He taught me that sometimes when you stand up to do the right thing in the face of incredible difficulty NOT for the benefit of yourself but of others people will perceive you as crazy, but you must do the right thing anyway!

And now, my fellow Liberians, it is time for me to do what I believe is the right thing and speak to the internal wrangling of Liberty Party.  My intent here today is to evoke the memory and the legacy of the man whose sacrifices gave birth to this great institution.  And to ask the question “What would Charles Brumskine do in a time such as this”?

First, I must speak in my personal capacity and answer the questions of many, as to why I have remained silent during a time of intense and extreme noise.  To this I say, when my father passed away in 2019, I knew that there would be an immediate scramble for leadership in the Party. I knew that as the closest person to him politically and personally I would be an immediate target for those who would want to reduce and remove any remnants of Brumskine in the Party and take it in a new direction; and I also knew that I would be an immediate consideration for leadership for those who wanted to continue a Brumskine legacy.  At that time, I was in a place of deep mourning.  I decided and verbalized loudly to everyone that my Father had left a structure in place and that I did not intend to vie for Chairmanship or the Political Leadership of the Party.

The vulnerability of Liberty Party, after losing its vision bearer, had already begun to show in 2019.  There were many who wanted to oust the current leadership, even move the political leader, and there many who wanted to keep the current leadership. My goal at that time was simply to sit at the table and to hold LP together for continuity of the values and principles that my father had established.  As well as, because of the sacrifices that so many people had made for this Party.

In order for you the public to fully understand the context in which I speak, I must delve into a bit of immediate Party history.  In 2020, it was decided by the leadership of the LP that the Party would amend the Constitution that existed during the leadership of Cllr Brumskine.  Some members of the leadership also decided that the Party should elect new officers.

All positions would be up for grabs except the political leader position. While I did not oppose the amendment to the constitution, I was vehemently opposed to the election of new officers.  I argued that the officers who were elected during Cllr. Brumskine’s leadership still enjoyed the confidence of the Party and the legal right of their tenure and term.  I saw the arbitrary decision to elect new officers in 2020 as an unnecessary unraveling of a system that was intact, a system left by Charles Brumskine that did not need to be changed in less than one year after his death.

Charles Brumskine had taught me that an institution is only as strong as its governance system.  When we begin to arbitrarily, without justification, remove leaders from their elected position, we have compromised the integrity of the institution and the foundations of the rule of law.  When that is done the institution ceases to be credible.  Brumskine believed in credible institutions! Brumskine spent a vast majority of his time in opposition building Liberty Party to be an institution of honesty and integrity!

When I expressed my concern, I was immediately accused of being entitled, thinking this Party was my father’s property or “farm”.  There were assumptions that I wanted to be either political leader or chairman of the Party.  And people on both sides of the aisle ran with this. Neither were true.  Anyone who knew my father knew that he had disdain for entitlement. And did not raise his children to be entitled to anything because it had his name on it.  Even when he had one of the most respected law firms in the nation, he and I decided that it was important that I not rely solely on the name of my father as an entry point into the legal profession, but I earn my stripes through my own hard work, therefore, I established my own firm.  My father worked for everything he obtained and expected no less of me.  So I felt no sense of entitlement to leadership at Liberty Party.

What Cllr Brumskine also taught me, and many of his followers, is that a political institution is only as strong as 4 elements:

  • Its philosophy or ideology
  • Its absolute adherence to good internal governance and rule of law
  • Its ability to convince the general voting population of the benefit of adopting the Party’s ideology and voting the Party into office.
  • And the ability of its Party leaders and elected officials to reach across the aisle, work with other institutions and collaboratively work towards the common good of the country.

 

Let me start by discussing the first of four elements: LP’s philosophy. LP is rooted in the 4 Rs:

Reconciliation

Reform

Recovery

Rebuilding

 

There is a reason that Cllr. Brumskine and the founding members of Liberty Party named reconciliation as the first R.

What is the definition of reconciliation? Reconciliation is simply the action of making one view or belief compatible with another. It is simple and it is necessary!

This is the time for reconciliation! This is time to put Liberia and Liberty Party first.  There were times when my father faced tremendous opposition, even from within his own Party.  There were some who betrayed him, who left him, who lied on him but in the end, he always put those hard feelings aside. In the end he always chose reconciliation. That was what Liberty Party was about—the greater good, not about personal interest!

If we do not reconcile as a Party, we are useless to this nation! What good is a Party with a leadership structure and executive committee recognized by the NEC but who do not have a strong constituent base, what good is a strong and large constituent base with a leadership structure that is not recognized by NEC? We are nothing until we ONE! If we continue to fight like this we are of service to NO ONE! Certainty not any other political institution, and definitely of no use to the country.  The masses are looking to us! Our country needs strong political institutions as the prop for good governance!

How do I speak to reconciliation without speaking of the rule of law? Reconciliation and rule of law are siblings. They are inextricable components for a healthy civil society.  What is the rule of law? The Rule of Law is defined as the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-established and defined rules.

What does this mean in simple terms?  A Party or a government must establish its governing laws and stick to it even if it does not work in the interest of a few. However, if the laws do not work in the interest of the majority, the Party then decides, through proper governance methods, to change the law. The Party should never change its laws to appease the whims of a few!

This is what Charles Brumskine stood for. In 2017, when my father was faced with one of the most difficult stages of his political career when he challenged the election results, ultimately to his detriment, he told his supporters that they must adhere to the rule of law. It did not benefit him, but he respected it!

The man embodied the rule of law. He did not suffer compromises and petit corruption at any level in this institution. Brumskine saw LP as his family. And nothing was more important to him than family.  Brumskine did not come from much money, he built LP from his earnings as a lawyer. He was not a millionaire, far from it.  But people flocked to Liberty Party because they saw something different about that institution, something they had not seen before.  They saw an institution being led by someone who had strong values and principles and never compromised such, not for money, not for recognition, not even for the Presidency!

I want you all to know that although the public saw me as being silent, I have continuously been engaging the leadership and stakeholders of Liberty Party behind the scenes.  I have remained publicly silent because I wanted to respect the role of our leaders in the Party. My hope was that the leadership would resolve the issues of the Party and never allow it to get to this point. But now my public silence no longer benefits the partisans of LP.

When I leave here today, I may have lost brothers and sisters, but I have retained my conviction, my values and what I believe my father would have called me to do.  There may be some that will say I did not come across strong enough condemning one side or the other for what was happened.  But do I say it was right to endorse another CPP candidate in the middle of an internal crisis? Do I say it was right to nullify the 2021 special convention that brought in the current leadership? Or do I say it was right to suspend the Political Leader for non-payment of dues? Where is the right? What side must I fall on?

I choose to fall on no side but instead I choose to STAND on the side of Liberty Party. I stand on the right side. I chose to stand with the principles and values that Liberty Party was built on.  I chose to stand with the masses who are despairingly watching what is being played out in the public arena.

We are better than this. We are the Liberty Party! We are the institution with some of the most patriotic, compassionate and brilliant young people.  What has happened to us? We are the institution that consistently provided constructive criticism and alternatives to the UP government during the former administration. We are the Party that pushed for better electoral mechanisms in 2017.  We are the institution with 4 current senators, from 3 of the largest counties. And for the past few years, the only Party to proudly produce a female senator! We are Liberty Party!

Now we must come together under the rule of law and reconcile. I know that this will not be easy. I know that there is tremendous hurt and anger of both sides.  This is understandable. This speaks to the strength and the passion of our Party. But now, it is time to turn the grenades and rockets, the machine guns and knives away from each other in the party and launch them at poverty, corruption, lack of patriotism and all other societal ills.

The time is far spent! Liberia is on the brink of a new dawn.  May history judge Liberty Party and its leaders as being one of the conduits to the new dawn.  May we strengthen ourselves so that we may reach across the aisle to our sister parties within the CPP as well as the ruling establishment to provide options, ideas, policies for the new Liberia.

Now, in order to truly reconcile, rebuild, reform and recover Liberty Party, I ask that we constitute a council of elders comprising of no more than 7 persons, to engage the leadership of Liberty Party to find a means of making all views compatible and to help us find a way forward! This council will mediate. The council will make findings and offer recommendations, behind closed doors, as a means of moving forward.  We will ask the office of the Political Leader to recommend 2 persons, the Executive Committee to recommend 2 persons and we will have 3 neutral members of the council. I offer to sit on the council. We can use the home of Cllr. Brumskine as the venue. I believe his spirit is there and will guide us.  I strongly believe that all we need to do is take the first step, God and our moral obligation to this country will lead us to the rightful end.

In conclusion, to the office of the Political Leader, to the Executive Committee and Chairman, I say now is the time. Tomorrow is not promised. I challenge you to step up, put your differences aside and agree to the reconciliation council for the betterment of the Party and the Nation. I ask you to find it in your heart to come in the middle and lead from there!

To the Partisans of Liberty Party, I beseech you to hold Your head high! Do not be ashamed! We are not dead! We are in birthing pains, we are going through Labor. Liberty Party will surely produce a unified leadership that will plow forward towards a better Liberia. We see you! We hear your cries, we feel your pain. Remember what is at stake, your blood, sweat and tears are at stake. Do not allow competing interest to blind you. Demand a united and reconciled party.

To the people of Grand Bassa County, the land of my father, the people who still grieve and mourn the passing of one of their greatest leaders. I promise you that we will not let you down.  I remain true to the principles and legacy of Cllr. Brumskine. This Party will not die, we will hold the Party up, we will keep the Party alive. Cllr. Brumskine’s dream will come to pass!

I ask everyone to think and reflect on their actions. I end this statement with a quote from our founding father, “We cannot afford to continue with the illusions of the past against the obvious and plain truth; we can no longer continue to be the people who have eyes when we see not; have ears but we hear not. This moment is about remaking our country, believing that our best days are still ahead”. Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine

Together We Can Do Better!

God bless Liberty Party and God bless Liberia!

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