[OPINION] Have we all become elitist? 1

[OPINION] Have we all become elitist?

Ed Tayao

Posted at May 14 2022 07:10 AM

There will always be elitists, in any country, in any democracy. It is but natural, expected even, for one to distinguish him/herself from others, but to put other people down? Denigrate people because they differ in their beliefs, especially political beliefs? Some people are blamed for “arguably” being defeatist, of supposedly thinking like some slave or a blind follower. Aren’t you doing the same for just expressing your political, rather partisan views without taking the extra mile making sense why the popular view/s is significantly different from yours?

Some even went to the university, studied about processes, not only laws but institutional processes, and you continue to subject yourself to the same archaic kind of politics? Something really has gone wrong in our society that we have reached this low. The so-called “tyranny of the majority” has become the favorite line recently; the question however is, if anyone has gone beyond the simple phrase? Has it been reviewed for example how earlier political thinkers and theories explained what exactly is tyranny of the majority and what causes it? Is it right to think that the majority simply are that dumb to not think the same way than one would want them? If the majority cannot understand or see what one thinks to be right, whose fault could it be? What could possibly be the reason why the majority see things differently?

We want democracy. We call for everyone to be democrats; to be vigilant so that our basic human rights can be protected. We encourage everyone to participate, express themselves, their beliefs and advocacies, yet when we hear them saying something that’s different from what we believe, we don’t only criticize them; we brand them, we call them names, we consider them idiots and or stupid. Worst, we cut ties with them, friend or relative, it doesn’t matter. Nothing wrong with being “principled”, but to push away people, including those you literally owe so much as a human being? That is not even consistent with being principled; it is rather being a demagogue. Relationships built and nurtured by blood, sweat and tears are just set aside? Is this still being a democrat? Do advanced democracies share this attribute of political support, of followers and citizens? If not, can we not give more thought as to why we have this kind of politics?

Are you not being inconsistent? How can you convince people to participate if in the process you’ll tell them they’re wrong because they don’t share your beliefs? How will they be free when you yourself is goading them to just shut up if they don’t want to be discriminated, ostracized, bullied and singled out? If your objective is to get people to understand you, should you be that acerbic a person, will it not be better to be at the least take a step back and ask yourself why what’s happening is opposite of getting people on your side and at the least understand what you have been advocating? If you were in the shoes of the person you’re trying to convince to the point of bullying, how would you feel? Will you be inclined to have a change of heart, understand the zeal of your friend trying to convince you?

This has been the story of this election. Sadly, instead of at least sustaining a more level-headed elections as in the previous ones, we have gone further down and heightened polarization. If only the opposition veered away from what has become a trademark strategy of prejudice campaign, of promoting intransigence instead of understanding, I am confident the results would have been different. The numbers at the least could not have been a tsunami of a difference. What could be the reason why it’s the first time we’ll have an elected president with a mandate of more than 50% if not for this kind of know-it-all or pompous type of a campaign?

Now, if we remain disapproving of the result, would you consider extra-constitutional means to (what you think) correct the result? Have we not had enough of the so-called Edsas, popular uprisings to do away with sitting President? Will this not be an oxymoron, a step to the battlecry of “protecting democracy”? Take note that the elections were conducted under the 1987 Constitution. Whatever step and or tools were taken that some think unacceptable if not injurious to democracy, take note that all these were undertaken given the existing laws. If existing laws are wanting, what should be the better steps to take? Waste any little gains we have had so far in the country’s development by opting for another Edsa? Or take part in concerted efforts to correct existing rules, better yet establish a real system?

This resolute political drive would have been good if the impetus is a principle or set of principles and the objective is clear and concrete as a program or policy direction. Given the kind of politics that we have though, this is simply impossible or improbable. We may engage in substantive issues, the economy, environment, employment, pandemic, poverty, etc., but the bottom line will always be the personalities involved. The intense political activity is driven simply by personalities. Yes, we would like to think that on the contrary we are fighting for what is good for the country, of something concrete, but we simply don’t have the mechanism to actually determine if the personalities we are supporting will even actually be doing exactly as promised.

In the first place, there’s hardly any way for us to actually know enough of the candidates we are supporting. Even those who are closer to the candidate on a personal level even just professional level, would be surprised of the character of the person being popularized. Propaganda is not the monopoly of one single candidate. It is a political tool that is used by all political groups and candidates. There had been so many instances before that people thought of their preferred candidate wrong as they almost always end up getting disappointed. We have seen this in so many of the past elections and past leaders, especially past presidents. How many presidents have we had that started as very popular only to leave office with nary a bit of that popularity left? What could be different with those who were not elected? How can we be sure that if they were elected, they would have made a good leader?

Real political parties are needed if any of what we have mentioned is to be made possible. We have in fact taken steps toward this end already, except that it was mysteriously wedged or prevented from passing in the Senate. A “Political Party System Reform” bill was already passed in the House of Representatives in October 2012. It reached the Senate up to second reading, but it was suddenly set aside. This development in fact is an interesting bit of the country’s political history and should be looked into by social scientists. Revising the archaic Philippine constitution is the ideal, but with the many attempts at it already, it need not be said that it seems unthinkable how it could be undertaken, the political party reform initiative could have at least been a good first step but the country was simply denied of it.

Now that we have a majority president, many believe that he has every reason as he has a clear mandate to revise the constitution. This would be interesting. Of course, there are many who have always taken part in advocacies to introduce needed reforms to our kind of politics, and therefore to our constitution, but if previous attempts were to be the reference, for sure those in the opposition will again question the personality, petrify the public that if given the get-go, will only change the constitution for selfish interests. Then again, it is an opportunity to change our politics nonetheless. And instead of just preventing it, we should all in fact take part. It will not only make the exercise inclusive, it will not only further enrich the discussion, but more importantly, it would be more transparent and that we’d be better able to make sure it is done only for the better of the country’s future.

It's been almost a week since the elections and yet, we’re still at it. We should realize that the elected president is not just the president of those who voted for him, but of the whole country, of every one of us. We should now focus on the next steps; if not the next steps of the presumptive president, our next steps as a people or organization. We should have learned enough from the just-concluded electoral exercise; if we remain unconvinced and we feel bad of how it turned out, why don’t we focus our energies to improving the situation, contribute to improving our political processes so that hopefully we’ll have the results of the next electoral exercise/s acceptable to everyone?

We can only suggest to the government, to any government, including the incoming administration, what can be done first. Just like the referee in a sports game, they have the better vantage point to determine what’s best. From where we sit however, it is obvious that getting back on our feet from the debacle caused by the pandemic is paramount. The first steps then should be towards this end and there can be no doubt that the incoming administration has already thought of this and is now occupied doing benchmarks. Benchmarks mean determining where we are now, what has been successfully done and what still requires to be done. There are of course many components towards this end. The main components obviously being health and employment.

Meanwhile, those who remain opposed to the incoming president, more than just saying or doing anything to undermine it, it would be best to remain circumspect and continue to make sense of issues and keep the public informed. Keep the public informed of facts and figures, so that a more objective take on the country’s problems may be undertaken. More than just opposing every move of the president or government, it is best to offer alternative perspectives or solutions to problems and in the process further educate the public that is assumed to be lacking in education. One need not be a blind follower, but put your money where your mouth is, as they say.

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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.