Loss sucks. Nobody likes to lose — not even those in the Opposition who have, over the last several years, lost a lot. Thing is, the way one behaves when in a situation that sucks is what defines one’s character.
It is quite evident that the Opposition are not taking a rare opportunity to pause and reflect on what just happened. They are, instead, behaving the way a spoilt brat would when finding that things aren’t quite going her way. They are lashing out at the world often using incoherent words forged in the dark pits of their collective psyche where a profound pathological anger continues to stew.
Even without having to attend a good anger management course, most mature people will have learnt that dealing with anger often requires the simplest of mental and physical exercises like overcoming the reptilian instinct to reflexively react, taking slow deep breaths, and counting to ten to clear the dark clouds hovering above them. An important step in this process involves taking the effort to understand where the other party is coming from rather than focus on one’s own point if view alone.
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If one observes how the Opposition and its key “influencers” and “thought leaders” approach the task of getting back up on their feet again after the catastrophic loss they copped in this year’s elections, you’d think you are watching a toddler rolling all over the floor bawling in the midst of a monumental tantrum. Rather than mount an inclusive effort to help a nation come together to rise above the deep conflict that characterises hotly-contested elections, the Opposition’s top personalities are, instead, further polarising Filipinos by digging their heels even deeper and adding height to the walls they build around their little cliques.
Vergel O. Santos, a columnist for Rappler, in a New York Times article wrote, “the people of the Philippines may well have the president they deserve.” True indeed. They always do. But where Opposition “journalists” like Santos conveniently stop short of is in citing how his camp have failed to pitch an attractive alternative to Filipinos not just in these elections but in the three years leading up to it where they had more than ample opportunity to do so.
Credit that failure to the true underlying motivation of an Opposition “united” only in a desire to seize power (even through illegal and dishonest means) from a leadership duly elected by Filipinos. Beyond that, all they have are individual vested interests in a status quo institutionalised by the 1987 Constitution that summarily legitimised the “revolutionary” government of what was to become the First Aquino Presidency.
Continuing his NYT tirade, Santos sneers, “Filipinos hardly endorse the move toward more federalism. For now, though, they certainly continue to endorse Mr. Duterte.” Santos seems to suggest that Filipino voters have put their country down a path they do not necessarily aspire to tread. Yet in the same vein, Santos also admits…
…the House of Representatives approved various amendments to the Constitution that would move the Philippines toward greater federalism. Congress still needs to vet them — though it’s not immediately clear whether a two-thirds or a three-quarters majority is required for that nor if the requirement applies to both houses voting together or separately. Then, the changes would have to be approved by popular referendum. All of this could be a long, drawn-out affair, but it may well happen before the next general election, in 2022, when Mr. Duterte’s term is set to expire.
Interestingly, Santos describes this “long, drawn-out affair” of a democratic process as if it was such a bad thing, failing to point out that this process is chock full of mechanisms to engage the participation of the Filipino public in the decision-making effort and the charting of a strategic pathway to their nation’s future.
It is easy to see that Opposition “influencers” like Santos would rather see obstacles where there are, in fact, opportunities. Indeed, the very nature of the status quo they so rabidly defend is what turned an entire people against them, to begin with. It is quite baffling that the Opposition too don’t see an opportunity to instigate change at this very fabric of the Philippines’ governance framework.
It would be in the best interests of the Opposition to spend the next three years learning the important lessons of this year and crafting a coherent strategy in the lead up to 2022. They should ditch the social media shills they traditionally relied on and take more guidance from experienced managers who have a lot of sense gained from real experience to bring to the table. An example is Inquirer contributor Josiah Go, who offers some hard marketing lessons to be learned from 2019 polls to anyone who cares to take heed. One important one strikes the core of what lost the Opposition an entire nation in these and the previous elections.
The Otso Diretso team could have learned from behavioral marketing. They used parent-to-child communication by criticizing Mr. Duterte, belittling his achievement. They could have used adult-to-adult communication by applying “convert communication” instead of outright criticism. They can do this by saying “I have similar goals of fighting criminality but this is what I have discovered,” lessening resistance of those still considering the senatorial candidates of the president, and making them more open to reconsideration instead of making them defensive.
Funny enough, this ingrained habit of belittling a popular incumbent is exactly what the old crop of Opposition influencers — the traditional ones who ran the Opposition campaign aground this year — continue to do. Perhaps rather than resign as head of the disgraced Liberal Party, Mr. Kiko Pangilinan, who would have been in the best position to apply the important lessons, could have redeemed himself by doing the more courageous thing — sticking around to fix the Opposition by purging it of the cancer that killed it. This will have included giving many of his own personal friends that make up this cancer a boot up the ass.
There are hard lessons to take on board and even harder things to do that the Opposition need to embrace. To become a better Opposition they will have to confront these harsh realities and change for the better.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.