IT is nine months before the election. The political pot is boiling here. It is to be noted that the same political pot is a-boiling in the US, a nation we are in close observation of.
Both countries seem to be feeling that they are undergoing a leadership crisis. At least from the anxiety that the forthcoming electoral events are causing the voters.
Let’s leave the Americans to their own process which begins with the primaries that take place in the winter months, going on to the summer party conventions which end with the nominations of candidates for president and vice president. These are for the national presidential elections. Then the campaign takes off. Note that there are two major parties which does not mean independent candidates are excluded. However, as of today no third party candidate has won a presidential election.
Now back here we have a multi-party system and a mostly self-nominating process which results in a plethora of candidates. It seems the survey polls are now the ones who initiate nominations by encouraging a candidate with the numbers to present himself or herself.
At the moment we have three presidential candidates and counting. We also have six vice presidential candidates, some by themselves with no attachment to a presidential candidate so far. That can change. More candidates will come to the fore and more parties will come with them.
Because all of the above is going on at full speed now, voters’ hearts are beginning to race. A lot of anxiety among some for too many choices to make, too little known about the candidates by way of track records, platforms and views expressed. The talking heads on television are not helping with their hackneyed views and skewed opinions even though they think we do not notice. Ignore them.
Among the candidates factors like charisma, showbiz, good-looks, popularity, being articulate and witty actually muddle the issue of leadership. Or, rather remove the issues as the basis for good electoral decisions in the right perspective. Actually, these so-called qualities form the entertainment aspect of our elections. Note how candidates will have to sing and dance, exchange roles or merge roles with showbiz. How rallies, political party gatherings and whatever campaign moves are in the mix have entertainment as a major ingredient. With television, movies, pop concerts, even sports as competition how can a public plaza attract people for a political rally if not with some public entertainers or “gimmicks” as they are enigmatically termed? Here I do not need to mention the obvious from recent events in Laguna at one political party’s swearing-in ceremony.
But let’s not digress. The main event is how and who to elect which is creating a burden for discernment from the electorate. It is bad enough that the automated process with its faulting machines have come under suspicion. The rumors of technical cheating are already in the air with tales of offers to rig votes on a percentage basis for a price. The come-on to the candidates is pay the price and be sure of the votes as against pay the price of campaign expenses and be unsure of whether you will garner the votes. A dilemma for candidates, indeed.
The voters’ dilemma encompasses all of the above. But I think we should not panic. At least not yet. No need to make a decision until the last few weeks which will be sometime in April after the official candidacies have been filed, the campaign has ended, the debates have been heard and the issues brought to the fore, including whatever is on the record and off the record regarding the candidates. There will be revelations, crises, challenges for the candidates to meet and for us to observe how they comport themselves. All of these will be in the equation and all of it will be informative whether as the truth or as lies, whether deliberate or accidental. It will play out. Wait for that and relax in the meantime.
Philippine elections must be taken in perspective, the perspective of time, of the campaign’s trajectory, of the personalities and candidates that will come under scrutiny.
That is the exercise, that is the conversation and that is the process that we will all observe the candidates undergo. Until we go through it, no need to make precipitate decisions or feel undue anxiety. Say your prayers, keep cool, register as a voter, volunteer if you can to watch the polls. Even campaign for the candidate you believe in. Be involved but do not lose yourself.
To the candidates, show us you can and should lead.