In his Inquirer column today, Prof. Randy David attempts to explain why the Opposition continues to do poorly in the campaign lead-up to this year’s elections. By poorly, he refers to the consistently-low ranking most of the members of the Opposition led by the “Otso Diretso” coalition suffer in various surveys published by polling firms such as Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia.
I would like to venture an explanation for this sad state of affairs. What is curious about Filipino political values, I think, is that they seem to have regressed from being modern, at least in aspiration, to being traditional. The respect reserved for the articulate, the high-minded and the brilliant is at an all-time ebb in our political life. Critics, debaters and people of ideas are often denigrated as useless charlatans.
Voter preference today appears to favor those who are perceived to be approachable, compassionate and service-oriented. In short, those who can help Filipinos with their short-term needs. Our people are looking for patrons, not nation-builders or statesmen.
It has not always been like this. Something has definitely changed in the way we view politics. The mastery of modern politics and democratic governance is now largely viewed as the sport of a self-serving elite.
Perhaps. But what David is essentially doing here is apologising on behalf of the Opposition for a failed campaign. The fact is, the Opposition, led by the “Otso Diretso” coalition failed to connect robustly with the larger body of Filipino voters and, instead, mounted a campaign that is all but obsolete by design.
David is evidently blaming Filipino voters and presuming to judge their preferences this year as one that is an outcome of “political values” that have “regressed from being modern”. Well, perhaps so. But the whole point of a campaign is to read the pulse of the public and earn the trust of its members on the basis of that reading. The way David excuses the Opposition’s failure to do just that is no different to a spurned lover who goes on a rampage telling everyone that the erstwhile object of his advances is pangit and does not deserve him in hindsight.
In short, David is sourgraping on behalf of Otso Diretso. He is telling us that Filipino Voters are not good enough for nor deserving of his preferred candidates. Well that’s just classy, ain’t it?
Filipino voters are what they are. They will not change just because one party thinks they are entitled to win an election. And, contrary to what David assets, Filipino voters have always been that way. No less than former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III won in 2010 thanks to voters who were, using David’s own words, “looking for patrons, not nation-builders or statesmen.”
If there is anyone to blame for the failure of the Otso Diretso project, it is their campaign managers and PR consultants. Bad messaging, bad publicity stunts, and NO PLATFORM, pretty much doomed the Otso Diretso bid to conquer the Senate. Sponsors who had invested in Otso Diretso would be right to be hopping mad. They invested good money on a dud.
The fatal error of the Opposition candidates and the community of Yellowtards that supported them is in the mindset that they brought to their campaign — a mindset that convinced them that they were entitled to rule a nation on the basis of credentials. That, Mr. Randy David, is the real reason the Yellowtards had lost an entire country for the second time in a row.
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