The Philippine Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) are currently busy celebrating the conviction and impending arrest of former First Lady Imelda Marcos. This, of course, is seen to be a defining moment as, from their prespective, this “development” pulls a key pillar holding up what they call the “revisionist” take on Philippine history non-Yellowtards espouse — that the “Marcos Regime” was not all bad.
It is important that the Opposition camp revisit the whole point of the frantic messaging they are sending out to the Philippine electorate in the lead up to the coming elections — that theirs is an attractive alternative to the still-popular administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Recognising this, the confronting question the Yellowtards need to ask themselves is whether the messages they are sending out will actually win them an election. What are these messages that they need to evaluate from the perspective of election-winning effectiveness? There really are only two broad classes of traditional messages the Yellowtards send out — (1) Martial Law Crybabyism and (2) the “decency” and moral uprightness of the Yellowtard cause. Beyond these two, there is not much else.
The thing is, these two messages are nothing new. Both have formed the core of the Yellowtard narrative since the 1970s. Of course the Yellow brand, taken literally, did not exist until the assassination of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr in 1983. But the Yellowtard mindset pre-dates 1983 if we compare the “thought leaders” of the 1970s to those of the 21st Century — like characters for like characters. What is important to note is that the messaging did not change. To the credit of the Yellowtards, they remained consistent in their monomania over the last half century of shrill “activism”. Even more important is that they remain consistent with this messaging approach despite the spectacular loss at the polls they experienced in 2016 and the bigger loss Imperial Manila sustained to a Dark Horse from the southern frontier.
In short, nothing was learned from that loss. Instead, what the Opposition are doing is ratcheting up the volume, shrillness, and rawness of the same rhetoric. With Imelda convicted and Ferdinand buried, they are now suggesting that the old lady be imprisoned at Bilibid and the remains of her late husband dug up and paraded on Manila’s streets to the satisfy the bloodlust of their lot. The same Yellowtard-brand street parliamentarianism but with the artistic liberties of a generation raised on Game of Thrones and The Nun applied for dramatic effect, right?
Will such stunts convert votes from their opposing camps?
The traditional wisdom in the business of election “strategic” planning is that campaign messaging should be directed to the swing votes — that sliver of a voter base representing a community of “undecideds”. This may not work in the highly-polarised political landscape today, one where a hard line between the DDS (“Die-hard Duterte Supporters”) and the Yellowtards has been drawn. It does not help either that the Yellowtards, perhaps thanks to their cosy inbred relationship with the Catholic Church, have framed this campaign as a good-versus-evil narrative further motivating opposing camps to dig their heels in even deeper. More disturbing is that the Opposition are actually up against a popular opponent — which means every vote counts, which, in turn, means that they should be targetting conversion of the DDS as well even if it means taking long shots.
Under that light, it is easy to see how, this early, the Opposition are setting themselves up for failure. The ill-thought-out tililing rampage of jailing old ladies and digging up corpses may appeal to their addled minds. But from the perspective of the broader Filipino public, a society that reserves the highest forms of reverence for the elderly and harbours a superstitious fear of anything to do with the dead, this is a campaign that is machinegunning its own foot.
The Opposition — at least those of its members who’ve got decent brains to apply to their cause — should seriously re-evaluate the conduct of its arguably well-meaning but loudest “activists”. Better yet, make that long-overdue executive decision. Ditch the Yellowtards.
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