We remain focused on surviving this pandemic, and with that includes thinking how things would be, the soonest we get the chance to recover. I could not even say we’re thinking what would happen or what could be done to get back lost opportunities when the pandemic ends as there seems to be no end in sight yet, at least not in the near future. Despite the availability of vaccines now against the virus, the threat of contracting the virus remains. There was even this update by the Department of Health (DOH) which to me is misleading. It says, so many have already been given “complete protection”, which simply means some have already been given the complete dose of 2 vaccinations. The DOH should just have stated that some have already completed the doses as everyone knows even those vaccinated can still contract the virus, and so it’s quite misleading to say complete protection.
Have our leaders, incumbent and those running for reelection or election, given much thought of this? I’d rather be informed that one has or some already have something concrete in mind to adequately get through the pandemic, and not just another empty, or at best, dole-out proposal or initiative. I’d rather that it’s just me who has yet to hear anything of value in this regard from those wanting to be elected in May 2022.
This is the reason why I hope we’re not having more of the same. I hope we won’t be putting too much hope and expectations again on a candidate or candidates that things will be a lot better if they are elected. I wish we won’t hear promises again that are just too good to be true such that, in the process, we’ll just end up disappointed and worst, feeling for the nth time we were just duped. It's the story of our political life. A leader is painted as our savior, only to be known in the end to be the adversary. How many times have we been misled? We've been made to believe that this candidate is “the change” we’ve been waiting for only to be disheartened in the process.
Lamentably, we have been hearing from our candidates just that—more of the same. Of course, as I have always been saying, the system simply does not provide incentives for leaders to be more forthcoming with their plans. This pandemic however should have at least given notice of the urgency to offer concrete solutions as people are simply getting desperate and more fearful of what the future holds if not their very own survival. Still, the many preparations our would-be leaders are doing have been simply more for winning the elections. There's no indication whatsoever that we’d know what any of them could possibly do the soonest they get elected in office. The objective remains simplistic: win the elections and that’s it.
Of course, you’d be given the lame excuse that they have yet to make their plans firm, that they have yet to announce their plans, hence no need just yet to convey to the public what their plans are. Then again, if they managed to at the least “intimate” they plan to run for office or that they’d be a good candidate for an important position, could they not at least drop a hint of what they would do if they get to run the government? At the least, people will have an idea of the kind of leader he or she would be. Is it too early? On the contrary, it’s so much about time. The belief that it would be best to be the last to declare has already been a used tactic, and even if it is believed to remain a good strategy, it depends on one’s particular situation as a would-be candidate. Remember that President Duterte was not the administration candidate in 2016 when he appeared to be the quintessential reluctant candidate. More than that, it is not overstating to say that people are a lot more expecting now, so much more from their leaders than before, especially this time given the dire straits we have found ourselves in because of this pandemic. So, putting one’s plans out there now would be, to me, more of a plus than a minus.
In the same vein, to my mind, making an initial pronouncement and withdrawing it after would only suggest indecisiveness, if not being opportunist. It simply fails to show what is most needed under these current conditions. We need a leader who has a vision, is unequivocal, determined and unwavering. Again, the situation now has made people more focused on choosing the right leaders, especially reflecting on what kind of leadership the country has had in the past years, not only this administration but even the immediate and distant past governments. Strategies that have already been used before cannot be recycled and used now for the coming elections. It is a mistake to assume that voters have not been thinking. I’ve said it before and I say it again: a simple look at electoral patterns in past elections would show that voters think, especially for national elections. So, if the pattern of past elections is of any use, we have a saying in the vernacular, “Nabili na yan!”
Still, for some reason, it seems many of our leaders still downplay voters’ capacity. Of course, we can’t expect the general public to be as sophisticated as to really be into much of the substance of policy proposals or discussions, but it doesn’t mean people don’t make an effort to understand issues and choose the right candidate for them. The system guarantees that there is not much information on candidates and what their plans are, if any. But this little information is used as fodder for more information and even if it remains not enough, such information would certainly be used for and against a candidate. This system limitation can then be turned into an advantage if the candidate and his team know how to use it.
Notwithstanding all these however, we see and hear the same thing over and over again. It’s good to have audacious politicians announcing well ahead of the others that they are planning to run this coming election. The advantage of this audacity is immediately lost though as no reason or objective that is concrete and commendable is given to show cause for the plan. Worse, subsequent actions or activities of these early bird would-be candidates only show that the objective remains the same simplistic one—win the elections. What for? One might ask, the best answer you could expect is “to do good” and/or if not, “to introduce change” and or “reforms”. If you ask further or that you expect a little bit more than that, you’re bound to be disappointed.
It’s no surprise then that all we learn from the news on what’s keeping these would-be candidates now as they brace for the coming elections are all about making arrangements for their campaign and nothing more. Haggling here and there and wanting to be “the common” candidate, purportedly for the purpose of unity. You and I know however that after the elections, all the spoils only belong to the victor, so whatever concessions were made before the elections would most likely be set aside or simply forgotten. So, any talk of unity, if successful, will only be useful for the elections. Once already in office, the circumstances are changed in a snap
There’s the rub. If unity is achieved for the purpose of achieving some ends and not just getting into power, then we can expect such agreements to be more durable. Precisely, talks are conducted only for the purpose of consolidating electoral forces and not in pursuing concrete policies and programs. It comes as no surprise then that our leaders became leaders or aspire to be leaders based only on their popularity and in maintaining that popularity. Efforts are then focused more on propaganda more than anything. Interestingly, this focus on propaganda also becomes their undoing.
Consider for example one of the would-be candidates who just joined a political party different from the one he used to be with before. The leaders of this chosen political party then made pronouncements that they’d be working with a former administration party. For me, instead of generating more support for the candidate and, of course, the political party itself, the announcement of alliances should consider prevailing political sentiments. You would not want to be identified with the previous administration at this time. It might be good to benefit from the persisting popularity of the President, but if you’re not the President’s candidate, you don’t want to be identified with a group that is not popular. It might be best to have yourself seen as an independent candidate, or a candidate of a party that is free from any political baggage, whether of this current administration or the past; that you are your own person.
Well, until such time that our political leaders realize the significance of pursuing concrete policies and programs, of outlining a working political platform as the main purpose, if not guide, for running for office, that is all that could be done—rely on propaganda. Use propaganda to prop up one’s image or destroy another’s. In other countries, negative campaigns are but part of the many tools when running for office. In our case, it is the main if not the only tool during the campaign. What real development can we expect for the country and the people if this remains?
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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.