What?? Good-versus-evil again?? Is this the only way Filipinos will ever regard their elections?
It’s no wonder then that the Philippines never gets anywhere. There is no roadmap forward. It’s always just a “fight” of some sort where the “winner” is seen to be continuing a struggle against an imaginary “tyrant” still lurking in the shadows ready to pounce on the Philippines’ hapless “democracy”. In a sense there are no “winners” in Philippine politics of the sort that Filipinos can look to for a plan on how to tackle the future.
The Philippines’ political “debate” remains the same tired old lump of noise consisting of the shrill chatter of girly indignation over politicians’ bad behaviour and the same old melodramatic appeal to populist sentimentality. There are no real platforms that articulate a structured and systematic approach to transforming the Philippines from a society forever chasing its tail to one squarely on a trajectory to enlightenment and progress.
No, not now in particular. Whereas there used to at least be some pretense of looking out prospectively to the horizon in previous elections, today the notion of what happens from 2016 to 2022 under the watch of whoever wins in the coming elections is notably absent from the conversation.
It is a vast failure of imagination on a national scale.
Filipinos seem to have lost the ability to imagine the future. It is easy to blame this sad condition on the quality of the politicians vying for that lucrative seat in Malacanang in 2016. The bar for what it means to be a good Philippine president has been set so low that it is now a contest between an alleged crook and an inept administrator. Any hope of a fine statesman and leader to whom ordinary folk could look up to and feel inspired and motivated has dried up.
But, really, Filipino politicians merely reflect the character of the people that created them. The discussion around the appalling political cast of characters today is so devoid of inspiring ideas about a better Philippines tomorrow that it is easy to compare Philippine politics with the decline of Philippine cinema and television. It is one thing to be fed the same plot year in and year out. But it is another to behold a people who are happy to lap up progressively inferior productions.
Is the answer to curing Philippine politics of its abject retardation a simple matter of getting the nation’s thought leaders to “focus more on platforms than on personalities”? Of course it is. It’s so easy — easy said than done, that is. We tried that back in the 2009 to 2010 campaign. Platform plez. The idea there was that if we took stock of the ideas that each of the presidential candidates stood for and laid these out in such a way that one can easily compare the substance of each candidate, we’d be armed with a great tool to apply intelligence to deciding who to vote for.
Alas, the lesson coming out of that exercise is quite clear. Filipinos will not change the way they think simply because someone tells them to do so. Indeed, they will not think at all even when they are served ample opportunity and material to do so. Despite the ubiquity of 21st Century social media technology permeating Philippine society today, the quality and substance of the political debate has not improved. It is still the same trash talk, the same focus on irrelevancies and championing of all the wrong arguments.
If only Filipinos can step back from the fray and outside of the tiny square that frames their thinking and appreciate the utter perversion that is today’s “democracy” in their country. Nakakahiya sa mga kano.
Happy Independence Day, the real one: 4th of July 1946.
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