In the alternate universe of Mr. Aquino’s political mandarins, voters are truly smart that they will reject the crooks and the corrupt in the 2016 elections. In that universe, the assumption is the voters will settle for men of competence and integrity in 2016 like what they did, they believe, in 2010. That unshakable narrative keeps them dreaming of what they call “continuity” after 2016. Even if that dream runs counter to three things: history, polling results, popular belief.
The operative phrase that underpins their confidence is this: Voters are smart. Are they?
I do not have an idea on whether voters are truly smart. Or are truly discerning. Or, whether they vote according to their conscience—which should be the ideal rule in choosing leaders. What I know is that voters are many things, non-linear in their discernment of what makes good leaders. And the first question they ask themselves, when they do not vote under duress, is this: What is in there for us?
“In there for us” has a broad definition. It can be personal interest, the interest of a community, or the interest of a gender, a religion or creed. Regardless of what that “interest” is, it serves as the voting code, the code that unlocks the names that will be marked down on the ballots on Election Day.
Ok, I am a senior citizen, a certified member of the underclass, one whose life’s ambition never went beyond joining newspaper guilds, trade unions and peasant groups. Where will my class interests lead me to in 2016?
At the voting precinct, this will be uppermost in my mind. Mr. Aquino vetoed a bill called Magna Carta for the Poor, even if that draft law proposed token, superficial, non-budget-busting concessions to the likes of me and my neighbors.
His reason, couched in some twisted fiscal and monetary speak, cannot be forgotten by me and my neighbors. It will bust the budget and the government cannot afford it.
I will ask this question on Election Day: What leader in his right mind would veto a tokenism for the poor? This will lead me to vote against the Aquino anointed. Casting aside the hallucinatory beliefs of Mr. Aquino’s political mandarins, this is the only truth about voting. Voters are guided and motivated by their interests, no matter how selfish. You can’t call that smart voting.
What about the peasant class? How would they react to the chosen of Mr. Aquino?
On a pass/fail scoring, the peasantry will unanimously grade the PNoy administration an “F.” When the Napoles scam broke out, Mr. Aquino’s first order was to suspend all programs for the peasantry, from fertilizer and seed subsidies to the basic assistance of helping them get farm animals. It was not a knee-jerk reaction to a congressional scam. It was his bias against small farmers and small-scale agriculture.
Mr. Aquino knew that the small farmers were the victims of that scam, and never the perpetrators. In fact the conspiracy was akin to kicking the dying small farmers. In the sense that it used farm cooperatives and peasant support organizations as fronts for the scam. Just the same, his first directive was to bludgeon the already-suffering peasantry. I do not know what he has against my class. His policies have a deep-seated bias against the small people, most especially the peasantry.
Just the appointment of two Jokers—a former contractor and a former senator who has a leisure farm—as co-secretaries of the Department of Agriculture would dramatically manifest the Aquino administration’s marginal focus on the struggling peasantry.
What about the workers? What would be their reaction to Mr. Aquino’s anointed?
Over the past four years, Mr. Aquino never mentioned the phrase “living wage.” A wage level that will give the ordinary worker money for the basic needs: food, shelter and clothing. The talk across the globe is no longer about a minimum wage but a humanizing “living wage.”
Not once did Mr. Aquino discussed the issue of a “ living wage” with Congress and with trade unions and employers. While he swaggered as he discussed GDP growth and credit upgrades, nothing has been mentioned of undertaking a tripartite effort to grant workers a “living wage.”
He does not need to publicly state his aversion to granting workers a decent pay level. But his body language tells it all: This would dent the profit of the oligarchy. He would not sign the Magna Carta for the Poor because it would affect the budget for the high-impact projects that would be awarded to his favorite oligarchs.
He would not discuss a living wage as this would dent the profit of the super rich.
In the retail, food and service establishments—main drivers of economic growth—the current pay standard is very near a slave wage. Contractual employees paid slave wages is the norm. While Mr. Aquino’s government has created a class of rich categorized as “those-who-can-buy-a-small country-rich,” the workers of these super rich work under dehumanizing conditions.
Of course, Mr. Aquino has an ultra-loyal constituency, the rich and the super rich. But they are so few and—for very obvious reasons-they cannot even influence their household helps and drivers to vote for Mr. Aquino’s anointed.