High civil society density in Liberia reduces a citizen’s propensity towards some forms of participation, including contacting a government official, contacting the media, refusing to pay taxes and fees and participating in demonstrations and protests.
There’s a lot of ways in which civil society can strengthen democracy, but one way in which it does, is by facilitating political participation. For example, establish literature. What it does is that it demonstrates individuals with greater associational involvement and how they are more likely to engages in politics. Liberia has achieved so much as a country, they have achieved “democracy at last.” This is a form of evolution that will not stop, it may even get diverted, but no political progress takes a full form at the beginning or at any point. Liberia is no different. There will always be some form or type of missteps that will happen along the way, but there is always room for improvement which will continue to occur in tandem. The changes will eventually catalyze transformation of the status quo. Liberians should do a sober reflection to prevent any sustained decline. Components of democracy are being built but have not been institutionalized. It will take several generations to reach such a threshold. Liberians have experienced the absence of democracy and peace. By now they should know that gradual democratic change is better than tyranny and war.
I had the opportunity of attending a civic engagement, it was more of a Facebook group civic engagement. The group is called LIBERIA FIRST (a.ka. Movement for The Revival of Liberia). This group is about fellow Liberians coming together to discuss the hopes, aspirations and future wanted for Liberia. The groups also touch base on topics about the country’s democracy, the good and the bad, the ins and outs of the country democracy, what the country needs to improve on, and what government officials (especially the president) needs to do to put the country in the right direction. The group leaders are very engaging and interactive with its members. In the group, one of the leaders went on live to talk about examining populism in Liberia. During the Facebook live, as people were tuning in and engaging at the same time, one of the points that were made was that populism is depicted as an anti-establishment brand of politics. It seeks power by antagonizing the status quo, while appealing to the grassroots. This is so true and intriguing because civil society engaged in grassroots mobilization, and roots was involved in activities such as contact tracing and disseminating information about and acceptance of, health and burial practices that helped stopped the spread of the Ebola disease that broke out in 2014. Civil society was involved in other forms of service delivery as well, such as providing patient and family support services, and meeting material and immediate needs such as providing new homes and belongings to Ebola survivors and caring for Ebola orphans.
There are politicians who are populist and they set themselves apart as those advocating for the rights of the disenfranchise against the elites. In Liberia, there has been a slow transition to democracy which has led to various efforts to mobilize constituencies from the non-privileged classes and academic/political left. There is a growing critique of this micro-level focus, however, and increasing acknowledgment that civil society impacts political participation not just at the individual level, but also at the organizational and structural level. A structural-level characteristic impacts political participation in Liberia. There is a stereotype about Liberia’s poor and disempowered that undergirds its variety of populism. Liberia’s urban poor/slum residents, largely youth are considered the predominant supporters of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). Those of the rural communities have been strained to poverty and unemployment, which also has young people who are enthusiastic about the CDC. The past and present leaders of CDC have become or are slowly embedded in the traditional political classify that populism is merely a vehicle for accessing establishment political opportunities.
The overall dissertation deepens our understanding of the causes of political failure by examining not only whether information asymmetries have adverse effects on citizen political behavior but also when and why. Research shows that there is a higher civil society density in Liberia which reduces a citizen’s propensity towards some forms of participation, including contacting a government official, contacting the media, refusing to pay taxes and fees, and participating in demonstrations and protests. The real questions now, are how does civil society density influence these various forms of political participation? Does civil society density stimulate or inhibit conventional forms of activity such as voting? How about less conventional forms, such as demonstration/protest?