It is ironic that for all the Opposition harping about “democracy”, how it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, and how it supposedly delivers governments representative of a society’s greater good, it is their camp — specifically the leading Yellowtard bloc within it — that seems to be obsessed with dumbing down the discourse around it. As the campaign for coveted seats coming up for bidding in May 2022 ramps up, there is, as expected, very little talk about platforms and more of the sorts of bickering and mudslinging that lend themselves well to mass media reportage and social media chatter. No surprise there as it is expecting too much of Philippine politics’ players to step up above all that.
Having said that, it is easy to see that amongst all those dumb campaigns, the dumbest of them all is that of the “kakampink” mob of “vice president” Leni Robredo. Robredo and her ilk dumb their campaign to the ground and make their followers even dumber on a couple of fronts. First is framing their entire campaign almost entirely within an opposition to some sort of “evil” Marcos-Duterte Axis that is a product of their shrill paranoia. Second is a dependence on PR and marketing trickery — a sissy colour, hollow slogans like “Mga Gwapo for Leni”, more generally, the template “[Insert subculture group here] for Leni”, and dishonest stunts like motorcades and TikTok videos.
Democracy is premised on the notion that there is “wisdom” in crowds. The way that Filipino politicians have been conducting themselves in national elections since 1986 aims to appeal to the electorate’s lowest common denominator — entertainment and bloodlust. Crowd wisdom is not what is being tapped here, only impulsive and reckless mob behaviour. The camp of “vice president” Leni Robredo leads the way in turning Philippine elections into a circus. Not that any Philippine election had ever been anything but a circus, but one would expect these self-appointed “champions of democratic freedom” to be leading the charge to step up to the formidable challenge of getting modern rationality to win over reptilian thinking. Instead, Robredo’s camp play into that easy space where tribalism and us-versus-them exclusivity trump all else.
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Surely there is a way forward and a pathway to lifting the Philippines from the crass bottom-feeding that characterises her politics today. The Yellowtards led by Leni Robredo are certainly not setting that course seeing the sort of campaign she is subjecting Filipino voters to. Instead of encouraging thoughtful consideration, they appeal to backward sensibilities that former colonial masters and present-day oligarchs have long exploited to keep the natives lapping up the proverbial Kool-Aid.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.