Why Good Guys Rarely Win in Philippine Elections…

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In 2009, I was pretty sure that if anyone should win in the 2010 national elections, it should be (then) Senator Dick Gordon and being in the middle of so many activities aimed at securing his victory, I couldn’t help but buy into the campaign propaganda we had crafted during those many long nights at Gordon’s private office.

ipasok si dickOn election day, about 500,000 people voted for him and the only thing felt good about it was the fact that the preliminary results of the elections were announced in a matter of hours instead of the weeks it usually took.

Now, about five years after the 2010 Gordon for President campaign, here I am again thinking about why good guys like Gordon rarely win the Presidency and hoping that if I figure it out, I could probably help steer the course of the coming 2016 national elections.

But the thing is, I haven’t the foggiest notion about what it takes to win a Philippine presidency and that’s kinda funny for someone like me, who, at one time or another, brandished the claim of being a “political communications expert”.

Big news, I’ve been faking it for 12 years now and I guess people have already caught on to my ruse. It was fun while it lasted, though — it was infinitely more fun than being a palamunin food blogger, ugly beauty expert, or this-and-that social media “advocate”/”brand champion”.

But seriously, the truth is that no one really knows how to win a presidential election especially in the Philippines and that is statement that only very few experts on politics will openly agree to.

And, furthermore, I guess no one can really predict with certainty who will win an presidential election until the results are already pretty obvious.

So, if you are a newbie candidate interviewing someone who could be your campaign manager, hearing them say that they know how to make you win and that they can predict the results of a Philippine election at this point, you better have one of your people hustle you out of that interview quickly. Those are pretty big red flags.

Saying it more plainly, this time, the truth is that there are no sure wins and no one can predict the future.

Another big mistake you can make as a candidate, probably, is to believe that there is any kind of rationality that guides voting behavior.

In 2009, we in Team Gordon, had a pretty extensive discussion with the senator about “rational voting behavior”. One kind of figuring put on the table was that if we knew what the people wanted in a presidential candidate, then it would be a matter of showing that our candidate possessed all the qualities they wanted and given enough exposure, our candidate would emerge as a clear winner.

Although this wasn’t the guiding idea for much of Gordon’s campaign, there were those of us who stuck with this thinking and it really didn’t pan out well for those of us who did.

It should have been obvious to us why such a tack wouldn’t convince most people and really, if you are any good as a communicator, you’d know that people absolutely hate being told that you’ve got a better idea of what’s good for them.

Really, if you want to start a fight, just try telling another person that you know what’s best for him or her. So, guess what happens when you tell an entire country that a candidate knows what is best for each and everyone of them.

Voting behavior, if you boil it down, is hardly rational and most people will not be able to explain why they like one candidate over another using logic as well as correct facts. Most of the times, Filipinos like certain candidates based on mere notions about them and I have validated this observation many times over in the course of 12 years being involved in political campaigns or doing political communications.

If I were to make a guess about what makes people like one candidate more than another, the answer perhaps would be that what they like isn’t the candidate himself/herself but rather how much of themselves they see in the candidate and that is really a basis of establishing rapport.

And no, guys, most poor people I know don’t vote for a person because they got a freebie or money for their vote. Most of these people actually vote because the candidate took time to listen to them and responded genuinely to whatever their concern they brought to him.

Which now brings me to the last thing I want to say about this topic of why good guys rarely win Philippine elections… it’s because people who claim to be good guys are usually full of themselves and THAT JUST TURNS PEOPLE OFF.

And if you want a good short read on what building rapport is all about, check out this article in Time called “Top 10 FBI Behavioral Unit Techniques for Building Rapport With Anyone” and the part that hit home with me is this:

Individuals practicing good ego suspension would continue to encourage the other individual to talk about his or her story, neglecting their own need to share what they think is a great story…Those individuals who allow others to continue talking without taking their own turn are generally regarded as the best conversationalists. These individuals are also sought after when friends or family need someone to listen without judgment. They are the best at building quick and lasting rapport.

In ending this, here’s something for you to think about: Would you more likely support a candidate who heard you out about your concerns or one who told you what to think?

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15 Comments on “Why Good Guys Rarely Win in Philippine Elections…”

  1. Salamat po sa tapat at matalinong pagsusuri. Kailangan po talaga natin ng ganito.

    “Which now brings me to the last thing I want to say about this topic of why good guys rarely win Philippine elections… it’s because people who claim to be good guys are usually full of themselves and THAT JUST TURNS PEOPLE OFF.”

    Dahil d’yan pumasok po bigla sa isip ko ‘tong interview dati ni Chairman Dick https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTzIoDaP2Uo
    Hindi ko po minamasama ito o iniisipan siyang puro yabang gaya ng impression ng kasama ko dati sa kanya dahil gusto nating makilalang lubos ang iboboto natin lalo na sa mga tamad aralin ang iboboto o walang pakialam sa eleksyon maliban sa araw ng botohan. Si Ginoong Gordon po ay alam kong disciplinarian at may mga lumalabas po talaga sa bibig n’ya na ikasasakit ng loob o naglalabas ng insecurity ng madaling ma-butthurt na mga Pinoy. Sa tingin ko po nakasama po sa kanya iyon andami po kasing Pinoy na bulag sa katotohanan.

    Heto po isa pang heads up. Parang yellowtard po ‘yong writer pero maganda po ‘yong pinupunto n’ya rito at mukhang nag-focus po sa hindi nagawa ng mga nasabing kandidato rito ang mga naninilaw na kandidato http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/364005/only-gut-issues-please-poor-cant-digest-climate-change-senate-bets-find

    Dapat po siguro matutong tanungin ng bawat botante kung nirerespeto sila ng mga kandidatong nakasalang para sa liderato. At sa totoo lang ‘yong catchphrase po ng Comelec dapat “Pick your own poison” habang nakalista sa ilalim ‘yong mga pangalan ng mga tumatakbong politiko.

    1. kung maganda pala ang pinupunto ko, bakit mo sinasabing parang yellowtard ako?

      Alam mo, dati, akala ko okay lang na umidolo sa kandidato. Pero, napagtanto ko din sa mahabang panahon na walang kwentang pag-aksayahan ng panahon ang mga politiko.

      Madalas kong sabihin ngayon na ang politika natin ay politika ng panglilinlang at pang-uuto. Walang sinoman sa kanila ang makakapag sabing hindi sila nanlilinlang.

        1. Ang definition ko po pala ng good diyan ay anumang bagay o pamamaraan na magreresulta sa progress ng bansa o kabutihan ng bawat mamamayan.

          Hindi po talaga seryoso ang mga Pinoy (lalo na ang mga nasa gobyerno) sa usaping pagbabago kasi kung seryoso po sila unang babaguhin nila ay ang mga nakagawian nila, kinalakhang pananaw na nagdudulot ng paulit-ulit na occurence ng problema o greater damage sa hinaharap. Kung talagang seryoso po ang mga Pilipino sa usaping pagbabago at pag-unlad, pupulot sila ng ideya na makatutulong sa bansa hindi makasasama. At kung iniisip po nila ang makatutulong sa bansa, mas lalawak ang espasyo ng kanilang kaalaman, pupulot sila ng mga pamamaraang hindi pa nasusubukan o hindi pa nagagawa, bubuksan nila ang kanilang kaisipan at itatapon ang mga bulok na pananaw at papalitan ng makabagong ideya na hindi tumo-tolerate sa nakaraang mga gawing nagpapanatili o nagdudulot ng paglala ng mga kanser sa lipunan, at itatapon din po nila ang kaugaliang lumalarawan sa kanila bilang Pilipinong ang tagumpay ay nirerepresenta ng tagumpay ng iba o ng iilan, ang tagumpay ay bunubuo lamang ng papuri o gantimpala, o ang kaligayahan ay nakasalalay sa mga taong wala namang impact sa pagbabago ng kanilang buhay.

          Dito po sa atin t’wing eleksyon, nabibilang ang mga tao sa mga tumatakbo sa posisyon ang mga trapo at ‘yong mga bumoboto bobotante. Consistent po iyan, wala pong naliligaw ng landas pagdating d’yan. Wala pa po akong nakitang politikong nangahas na tumiwalag sa tradisyon ala Lee Kuan Yew at naturalmente hangga’t nakakapagluklok ng trapo ang mga Pilipino (kahit ang lahat ng kandidato ay potensyal na trapo), isa lamang silang mga bobotante. Ano po ba ang pagtiwalag sa tradisyon? ‘Yon po ang tinatawag kong “good”. Makabagong ideya, makabagong pamamaraan na hindi tumo-tolerate sa nakaraang mga gawing nagdudulot ng parehong pangit na resulta gaya sa nakaraan. Wala po akong tutol kung harsh o magdudulot ng sakripisyo ang pamamaraang ito. Ang sakit at sakripisyo po ang nagbibigay tamis sa isang tagumpay.

          Kung hindi po umiiral ang batas sa Pilipinas, paano ka lalaban ng patas? At paano po magkakaroon ng peace and order kung hindi mapaparusahan ang mga maysalang nakapagsasagawa ng samu’t saring krimen sa bansa dahil hindi umiiral ang batas? At kung walang peace and order, paano uunlad ang Pilipinas? Isa pa po siguro sa dapat pag-isipang mabuti ng mga Pilipino ay pinunong kayang proteksyonan ang batas sa kawalang silbi.

  2. Very ironic…

    Kung sino yung mga “low-profile” na pulitiko yun ang magagaling at laging natatalo. While yung mga pasikat sa harap ng media ang nananalo, tapos malalaman natin later on na wala pa lang binatbat.

    Hay naku, Pilipinas. Ano na lang sasabihin ni Rizal sa kabilang buhay, na walang kuwenta ang ipinaglaban niya?

  3. Let me copy this comment I put on Facebook: There’s also the “good guys finish last” myth perpetuated even in American culture. Thus, people are hoodwinked to avoid praising really good guys. They like bad guys more. We got that, plus, patronage politics keeping the good guys out. And the many Filipinos wanting entertainment and good time rather than serious stuff, so when they vote, they don’t do it seriously. But on ego, sometimes the ego is not with the person providing the good advice, but with the person refusing it.

    I wonder, how can this be applied to a friend you know was abusing the free softdrink in Burger King back then. Hard to tell him, “hey, what you’re doing is wrong, you should stop it.” He’ll probably “unfriend” you today. hehe

  4. Don’t worry, Mr. Farol. The HOCUS PCOS will again elect a President for you.

    It is “automated voting and cheating” in elections. Election Cheaters have gone to the Information Technology level.

  5. Most Filipino’s vote for the guy paying them P300 outside the polling station. I would take the douchbags payola and vote for someone else. Just as a matter of principle.

  6. Because they keep dying. Remember Jesse Robredo?

    (Well, granted, he was a Cabinet official, but it was precisely his honesty and transparency that eventually led to his downfall—I suspect he was murdered because he would’ve represented a change in “the way it’s always been done”.)

    1. Noteworthy, this is.

      —-

      “But politics, particularly democracy, requires people to be involved.”

      That is saying democracy is not the kind of government for the Philippines.

      —-

      “Feeling that you are actively influencing something (e.g. an Election) is a powerful motivator, but if some knowledgeable type starts spouting big words about interest rates or health trust deficit management, this is going to alienate those who don’t follow or grasp such things. So if a confident person says there’s a simple solution or promises to make the big complicated thing go away, they’re going to seem far more appealing.

      This is also demonstrated by Parkinson’s law of triviality, where people will spend far more time and effort focussing on something trivial that they do understand than something complicated that they don’t. The former offers far more scope for contribution and influence. And people do love trivial things, ergo less-intelligent people condensing down the big issues into brief (but inaccurate) snippets is a potential vote-winner.”

      Say, what’s the statistics of Filipino voters in terms of intelligence and loving triviality?

  7. I was one of the 500000 who voted for him. His civic actions never ceased (saw his Philippine Red Cross programs lately). Up to now I still believe that he is the most qualified and deserving person leading the country.

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