Will Leni Robredo win a national election if it were to be held, say, next week? It is likely that even her staunchest supporters in the Opposition — even those within its most rabid bloc, the Yellowtards — wouldn’t put money on her. Nonetheless, that does not stop opposition partisans, most notably their top “thought leaders”, from embracing the delusion that Robredo is the Philippines “real” leader.
Perhaps the thousands of Twitter “likes” and “retweets” are an irresistible opiate that Robredo’s worshippers use to escape the reality that the broader Opposition is no where near the shape it should be in to go head-to-head with a popular incumbent. With just a handful of months to go before campaign season for the next national elections start, the Opposition lacks a platform (or at least a narrative) of substance and, more importantly, a leader who is charismatic across party lines. Thus, they continue to latch on to “vice president” Leni Robredo who, for now, is the only key Opposition personality who possesses the wherewithal to sustain an old-school PR campaign that uses disaster grandstanding and appeals to victimhood as its primary fodder.
Interestingly enough, the title of Inquirer columnist Gideon Lasco’s latest piece “Leaders and disasters” encapsulates the defensive position the Opposition now takes in the midst of the public opinion fallout following the misguided PR campaign Robredo’s handlers mounted to exploit this year’s big typhoon and volcano disasters. In his piece, Lasco laments, “In a less divided nation, her actions would surely have earned plaudits across the political spectrum.” That is true of course. The reality, as Lasco admits, is far from that and, needless to say, far from fair. After all, that’s just what life is, isn’t it? Unfair. Lasco also seeks to absolve Robredo of any partisanism in her “relief” efforts appealing to his readers that, “contrary to attempts to cast her as someone trying to bring down the President, the Vice President has been restrained in her criticism—more restrained than many in the opposition want her to be. Despite the hate she has received, she has not returned the negativity, and her pushbacks were to correct disinformation, not to foment it. Throughout the past four years, she has always been respectful toward the President, even if the reverse is far from the truth.”
All true. No argument there. The trouble is, Father Reality favours neither the “righteous” nor the “victims”. It favours those who play the game well. Democracy, after all is (in the parlance of techos and marketers) a gamified form of governance. Votes are a scoring mechanism to determine who gets to rule under the current system Filipinos signed up to. The irony that escapes the faculties of Robredo’s fandom is that just like their obsession with the use of numbers of “retweets” and “likes” on Twitter as measures of community validation on Twitter, votes too are measures of validation on the real political landscape. For that matter, the results of public approval surveys conducted by firms such as SWS and Pulse Asia too are measures of validation over the range within which the soundness of their measurement facilities hold.
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Blindly favouring Twitter as a measure over votes or over SWS surveys is the red herring Robredo’s Yellowtard fandom are using as their political opiate. Twitter likes and retweets are valid as a measure within Twitter, just as votes are valid within the legal frame. SWS and Pulse Asia, for their parts, are crystal clear and upfront with regard to the range of the soundness of their statistical analyses.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is President of the Philippines because the constitutionally-institutionalised election system says so. It seems the Yellowtards regard Leni Robredo as their “leader” because Twitter’s scoring system says so. Very well then. By all means, let the Opposition declare Leni Robredo president of the Republic of Twitter. Meanwhile, the election that will determine who will be leader of the Republic of the Philippines is just around the corner. For their sake, the Opposition better have a strategy to win that more important game.
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