We’re all familiar with the experience of looking for parking in a packed parking lot. After spending the last hour circling and, in the case of malls, spiralling up and down in desperate search, we spot that one slot in the midst of a sea of cars and pull into it. Needless to say, finding that jackpot parking spot is a euphoric feeling that could move one to tears. You walk away from your car feeling like a million bucks.
But think too back to one of those rare times when you faced an abundance of choice. Perhaps if you were one of the smart ones who stayed home in Manila during the “Holy Week” while all the rest of them victims of clever marketing jetted off to Boracay for the Selfie Olympics. You’d find a slot almost as soon as you entered the parking lot but then balk at taking it lest you miss out on an even “better” location. You might even end up circling a couple of times for good measure to ensure you found the best spot. And even then, you leave the car with a nagging feeling: Could I have found a better spot?
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This raises an interesting theory as to why Philippine politics is so dysfunctional and why today’s Opposition and its outer circle of communist “activists” act like a bunch of crooked buffoons. Filipinos could be subject to a system that, by its very inherent nature, causes profoundly paralysing dissatisfaction and unrest. The illusion of “choice” given by a supposedly “democratic” system of government causes some form of psychosis in Filipinos, trapping them in the habit of engaging in a wasteful process of making choices. Like the driver in the latter example faced with an eye-popping range of parking choices, she nonetheless still gives an extra circle around the parking lot even if the option to save fuel and time by taking the first slot available was right there for the taking. And even then, that person walked away unhappy.
The same seems to be happening in Philippine politics. Filipinos are so paralysed by unhappiness and self-induced dissatisfaction with the way any government is running things that they are unable to move forward and focus on completing things. Imagine, again in the hypothetical scenario of abundant parking choices, a man in a shiny suit stepping in front of the driver as she walks away from her newly-parked car and telling her: You’re such a loser for opting for that parking spot. There’s one over there that’s even better. That man in the shiny suit is today’s Opposition — a complete waste of the oxygen they extract from the atmosphere and the root cause of a habitual failure to see real results contributed to the imporant task of building a strong nation.
It is under this light that Filipinos need to be more critical of what the Opposition is really doing and what they see their role as in nation-building. Are they just there to disrupt things? Or are they there to open doors? Stepping back further, it is only fair to say that the Opposition as they are today are mere products of a system that breeds this sort of dysfunctional behaviour. Too many unnecessary choices breeds an environment where snake oil salesmen thrive.
The common but utterly baseless notion that to vote is to exercise one’s right to participate in “charting the nation’s course” is what keeps the natives blissfully placated while politicians negotiate the real deals among themselves while sipping bourbon on comfy leather seats or puttering around tony golf courses within their exclusive residential enclaves. The contract of the typical politician is not with his or her constituents. Rather, it is with his patrons and business cronies.
For that matter, there really is no such thing as an “intelligent” vote. It is, quite certainly, impossible to vote “intelligently”. As such “democracy” provides us no more than a mere illusion of choice. During any election, it is really not about the number of candidates to choose from. It is all about whether we truly exercise conscious and intelligent control over our vote.
This is an opportune time to reflect and think: Is an abundance of choice really a good thing? More importantly, are Filipino voters mentally equipped to evaluate options intelligently? If not, then the spotlight should be refocused on those who compete for the attention and favours of voters who, potentially, may not be skilled enough to deal with choice after all. What then motivates politicians? Is it really the bigger good of the nation? If so, then one would think they’d have lots of things in common regardless of partisan affiliation because, really, how much can different people differ when it comes to fundamental principles that underly what is good for a country and its people?
The truth may be that the Opposition are only out to exploit a disturbing by-product of Philippine-style democracy: fear of missing out on a “better” president. That’s a pretty dishonest approach to political “opposition” that Filipinos should stop tolerating.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.