Again, election fever is in the air. Intrigue sloshes across the chattering classes who exchange factoids on the latest politically-motivated circus — the Gwen Garcia spectacle in Cebu, the Miriam vs Johnny imbroglio in the Senate, and the Aga Muhlach vs the whole system impasse in Bicol among others. What is the common denominator amongst these partisan dramas? Not much other than people of consequence and involved in events of little consequence.
Former United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was said to have said:
Small minds discuss people
Mediocre minds discuss events
Great minds discuss ideas
Where are the ideas that underpin the the competing forces in this year’s 2013 elections?
Certainly there is a lot of hollow-headed talk about the battle for domination between the most powerful parties at play this year — the Liberal Party (LP) of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III and the opposition “United Nationalist Alliance” (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Run the above fact through the So What? Test and you will get a categorical fail.
Liberal Party: So What?
UNA: So What?
Everything about the 2013 elections fails the So What? Test at all levels because there are no ideas at stake.
So the UNA is the “opposition” party this year. What exactly is it “opposing”? A first-grader’s guess will be just as good as a rocket scientist’s educated stab at the answer. There are no philosophies at stake in Philippine elections. Only businesses to protect, dynasties to maintain, and pork barrel funds to salivate over. Other than that, Philippine politics is a vast intellectual wasteland.
Look no further than political campaigns and compare the rhetoric now with rhetoric of years past, specifically 2007 when I wrote about the moronism behind the so-called “Black and White Movement”…
True enough, despite pages and pages of blurb on the need for “reform” all over the Black & White Movement website, it all came down to this statement by “helga” (one of the B&WM owners) in a comment in their blog:
[…]it would be a no brainer list, really. Everyone from Team Arroyo would be on the Black List. No fun in that.
This was referring to how the Movement presumes to classify Philippine politicians into Black (no-vote) and White (yes-vote!) as a “guide” to the electorate in their efforts to “elect into Congress men and women of moral courage…”. To which they add “…who will exact accountability from the GMA regime for the unabated corruption and extrajudicial killings”.
Filipinos for their part eat this all up, conveniently forgetting for the sake of hollow-headed partisanism that corruption and “extra-judicial killings” have always been a fact of life in the Philippines. The fact that they crested significantly during the Arroyo administration is beside the point. The shallow way by which Filipinos continue this never-ending cycle of beholdenness to the mind tricks of “united” oppositions — the images and fantasy worlds they paint of a corruption-free Philippines where truth, justice, and accountability prevail once they are elected into office.
Sound familiar? Of course it does.
That’s because corruption and rub-outs are systemic issues that can only be solved by systemic approaches that transcend any one administration or political fad. Yet the way that Filipinos regard elections involves vision (if you could call it that) that goes no further than the next election, the latest slogan, and the latest dance craze.
Even back then, the bottom line of Philippine elections and the spectacle of political campaign surrounding it was crystal clear to me:
Just like mass marketing, propaganda, and the ramblings of evangelists, campaigns are nothing more than quaint mind tricks. However, even Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader themselves admit grudgingly that their Jedi mind tricks work only on weak-minded fools (like the drone-like stormtroopers and Jabba du Hutt’s pig-like henchmen). A “free” society populated by, in Nasty‘s words, starstruck ignoramuses indeed is a mind trickster’s paradise. The trouble is, lazy brains are quick to delegate their thinking to the most popular belief systems and their slogans. The unfortunately lame duck (or is she?) President Arroyo is the the strawman of choice at the moment and “Patalsikin Na, Now Na” is the slogan of the day.
What is difference between the 2013 elections and the 2007 elections? Just people and events. But the ideas (or the lack of these) is pretty much the same.
As Raquel Welch was said to have said:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and then expecting different results.
But the Philippines is not insane. Insanity is a heaven only the truly enlightened can enjoy. No. The Philippines is just plain stupid. The good news for Filipinos is that any moron can enjoy stupidity.
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