Lula (Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva) of Brazil is the perfect example of a well-loved, well-appreciated former president. After term limits ended his presidency, Brazilian voters gave him a great gift: voting for his anointed presidential candidate, his former chief of staff Dilma Rouseff.
Dilma Rouseff broke new ground in Brazilian politics. She is the 36th and first woman president of Brazil. Political conservatives balked at her background – the “Joan of Arc” of the guerilla movement against the military dictatorship. Still, she won in a run-off election against her popular center-right rival for the presidency.
Al Gore won in the popular vote against George W. Bush. But failing to tap the support of term-limited Bill Clinton proved his undoing. He lost the Electoral College vote. Gore thought that the American voters were stricken with “Clinton fatigue.” Wrong. Very wrong. The truth was Clinton, despite the grave personal indiscretions he committed as president, was well loved and appreciated by ordinary Americans. A full-throated endorsement from Bill Clinton would have made a difference.
A well-loved president usually gets his wish of who should succeed him. And that is a universal thing.
The background is required for a better understanding of why the Liberal Party of President Aquino has a pool of presidential hopefuls with no chance of winning the 2016 presidential vote. The big black hole the LP is in right now, this is the hard truth, is a reflection on how the general public views President Aquino.
This is the general sentiment. Well, we thank him for not stealing. But that is not enough to be inspired by him. Or, for us to vote for his anointed candidate.
President Aquino will not exit in a blaze of glory that is for sure. His expressed wish for a successor who will carry on with his agenda, Aquino Act 2, will not be fulfilled. On swearing-in day for the president who will succeed him, only the Big Business groupies of Mr. Aquino will be there to lament his exit from power. And the section of the media that has turned a blind eye to his cold and heartless technocracy.
The eyes of me and my neighbors, who never felt in a positive way the governance of Mr. Aquino, will all be on the new president.
You might want to ask this question. Why is it so? Are we not a country of consistent growth rates? Did not President Aquino receive multiple accolades from multilateral institutions, get a string of credit upgrades from the rating agencies and wowed the Davos crowd? His economic performance merited the tag “economic miracle” of the developing world. Why are the ordinary Joes oblivious to such sterling accomplishments?
With all these accolades and approbation, are not the ordinary Joes too absorbed by their misery that they have failed to appreciate a good president?
Much of the world has changed over how it views its presidents and prime ministers, the top political leadership, and our views have similarly evolved.
Today, after Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, Pope Francis’ take on major economic and growth issues and the publication of that landmark book, Capital in the 21st Century, a leader with Mr. Aquino’s accomplishments— but who governed like a cold, heartless technocrat—is now deemed inadequate.
Leaders, before they can be called great, should try to bridge the huge economic divide between the Top 1 percent and the great mass that forms the underclass. To be “great” you cannot exit leadership with a surging number of dollar billionaires rich enough to buy small countries above and a teeming mass that have to sell body organs to survive.
Pope Francis has declared trickle-down growth as bunk and with no basis in reality. Even the IMF, a former chief advocate of the Washington Consensus, has a de facto recognition of the huge divide and has called for more aggressive action on inequality. Mr. Obama has called inequality the “defining issue of our time.”
On this global consensus to bridge the huge economic chasm, President Aquino is a denier. He does not even acknowledge that a gap exists. His keyboards, I have written several times, cannot even type the word “inequality.”
The nearest thing to a flaccid attempt to recognize the economic gap has been his uninspired call for what he calls “inclusive growth.” But this is essentially a nominal call, with no concrete programs at ground level. Even his flagship anti-poverty programs are useless.
The CCT as anti-poverty measure is based on a solid idea. In other countries the cash transfer has found real success. The problem is the CCT money is 99 percent spent on “tong-its”and “gin bulag”—making the program a real failure.
There is one area where this government has excelled and it has nothing to do with lifting the lives of the underclass. It is the world-class expertise in demolishing the chances of all presidential hopefuls not affiliated with the ruling LP. the skills of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove combined. The details of such expertise require a full column.