Renato Tibon .
“Winning and losing of the elections is less important than strengthening the country.” -Indira Gandhi
WHEN this article sees print, the hangover from the 2019 mid-term elections may still linger a bit with some losers still not conceding, accusing their rivals with cheating and vote-buying and holding electoral authorities responsible for perceived irregularities and telling everyone what an idiot the system is, that is, other than themselves. Wish they’re like the “Imeldific” who said, “Win or lose, we go shopping after the election.”
Human nature just isn’t wired to autogenetic acceptance of a beating like dogs licking their wounds after a scrimmage, regardless which won. World Tennis champion Rafael Nadal, after a string of losses was quoted saying, “I have no sense of humor about losing.”
Indeed, it’s not a laughing matter when we start blaming others and the circumstances which contributed to it other than our own foibles, on one hand. On the other hand, the matter of fraudulent practices committed by politicians exacerbated by a corruptible electorate, dishonest election officials and an election system prone to manipulations are too brazen to be ignored. They are a threat to true democratic expression of the people’s will. We stand to lose, if not already.
The reason people hate politics is that we rarely see politicians run a transparent race submitting themselves to honest, free and orderly polls. To them, the goal is obtaining power, and winning is winning through means fair and foul.
People in the minority, those who believe in genuine democracy, freedom and justice can only grin and bear it and submit themselves to the “tyranny” of the majority, the manipulated, coerced, bought majority. “Vox populi vox Dei” (The voice of the people is the voice of God) rings hollow.
Yet, as in every human endeavor, we always think of “summum bonum,” the greater good. Money spent for the last campaigns may have spurred the economy, stabilizing prices and growth factors, even if artificially fleeting with businessmen runaway winners.
The flow of consumer money is enormous. Consider the food, transport services, publicity materials, dole-outs and giveaways — almost every aspect in our economic life are positively enhanced every time election is held in the country. In fact, people look up to it, falsely believing they are entitled to politicians’ money reasoning they are bound to steal and recoup it anyway. That is to the detriment of those who are idealists, advocating clean and fair elections and the belief that people can change and failing and eventually bowing their heads not in shame for their loss as it is a loss for the nation.
Sourgraping also-rans entertain thoughts of migrating to other countries, perceiving they can’t win in an electoral system full of loopholes and blatant defects. The nation nonetheless stands the clear loser when well-meaning people lose the will to fight.
Still, there are those who have enough sense to consider their defeat as a lesson and a stepping stone towards the next goal or the next try.
Hope springs eternal. The country is not lacking of those who try their best against all odds, hoping one day a fresher batch of young, responsible and patriotic voters will decide elections on merits and competencies under a trustworthy system. Perhaps our educational system could include enhancement of the citizenry’s knowledge, rights and active involvement in the political processes and influence electoral results that truly reflect the people’s collective will.
In a sense, we are both winners and losers during elections. It is unnerving to hear friends and relatives talk casually about “ulan-ulan” (money clipped with sample ballots) and would hold purok leaders responsible if they don’t receive their just due. I don’t want to pass judgment but this mindset is reflective of a culture inured to personality politics, where corruption gains acceptability and people, the ones who can deliver the votes, expect their “pound of flesh” regardless of the consequences.
“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” Cynical people rationalize that since they seldom get benefited during the politicians’ terms of office; they might as well cash in on it. The loss of trust in our institutions is palpable but people grown weary to promises don’t really care.
The other side of the coin tells another story. Despite the obvious flaws of a highly centralized system, the government was able to conduct a fairly clean, orderly and peaceful election and it’s good for our democracy. Those who accused us of having a President with dictatorial tendencies can’t write finesse to their stories without being told they’re only wasting their breath. The people, aware of the futility of voting for “non-winnable” candidates, were consoled by the fact they have in their conscience voted for the right people.
Idealism still runs high especially among our youth. The economy, driven by consumerist spending would spur production leading to job creation which ultimately is the goal of the political exercise, putting in power those who can make the decisions.
Eventually, it is still us, a free people, who can make this nation great. As former US President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “Yesterday is not ours to recover but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
Politics, being my forte, I will write from time to time although there are engaging issues worthy of a good narrative which could influence hardened mindsets. They will be on focus in my next articles. Knock on it.
(Renato Gica Tibon is a fellow of the Fellowship of the 300, an elite organization under Centrist Democracy Political Institute [CDPI] with focus on political technocracy. He holds both position as political action officer and program manager of the Institute. He is the former regional chairman for Region 10 and vice president for Mindanao of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines [CDP].)