The idiotization of our politics


The above title comes after much thought. It is not easy to say what has become of our nation’s politics. But it seems to have become an exercise no longer in how to fool all the people some of the time, nor some of the people all the time, but how to fool all the people all the time. It seems to have become the affair of idiots, by idiots, and for idiots. Faced with the most serious problems in the world, beginning with the utter lackof competent and honest men and women to provide solutions to those problems, we look not for the wisest and most virtuous of men and women to address those problems, but rather for the allegedly “most popular,” according to the paid propaganda surveys.

By “popular,” we do not mean those who are known to have done something good and noble for God, people, and country. Or those who still fight for truth, peace, and justice, regardless of cost or consequence; or those who still care about morality in private life and in the public square, about the complementarity of man and woman and the difference between the sexes etc. Or those who insist that the young should still be taught what is good and bad, what’s right and wrong.

By “popular,” we simply mean those who are known or seen to entertain the masses, those we encounter in TV commercials, outdoor billboards, and live shows. We also mean those who have invested a lot in surveys to project their so-called “winnability” in an election. You will recognize the term as an assault on the English language, but it has become the most widely used word in the lexicon of survey promoters and procurers.

“Winnable” simply means “capable of being won,” as a race is capable of being won. But the horse or the jockey is capable of winning the race rather than of being won; neither the horse nor the jockey is winnable. In an election, it is the race, not the candidate, that is winnable: when you say the candidate is winnable, it means he could be won over, probably paid to change sides. That this happens to a number of candidates is part of the idiotization of our politics.

Back to where we started. There are those who, in Walter Bagehot’s famous line, are popular for no other reason than that they are popular. This phenomenon is not easy to fathom, but it exists. People do not always adore the adorable. Thus, a polyamorous presidential kin, who makes a media event of every adultery, is celebrated as “very popular” just because she is on every conceivable TV commercial. But she has no known virtues to support her “popularity.”

Now, far from remaining a noun that denotes a mere personal quality, “popularity” now signifies a huge political industry. Four major players support this industry. First, the politician who wants people to know how “popular” he is rather than how capable and qualified he is for any serious political task. Second, the propaganda pollster (fraudster) who manufactures, rather than measures, every paying politician’s “popularity.” Third, the conscript media that spread the fraudster’s lies without any compunction or guilt. And fourth, the gullible public that swallows everything as gospel truth.

As early as a year ago, we already saw this industry at work. Entirely on their own, the propaganda fraudsters started putting out “surveys” on the alleged popularity of individuals who may be interested in running for president in 2016. In the US and other countries, such surveys are normally conducted by interested parties after the candidates have been officially announced, and the campaign period is in progress.

In our case, there are as yet no official presidential candidates, and the campaign period has not yet started, but the surveys have been the most audacious in suggesting who should be and who should not be candidates. In that respect, the surveys have taken the place of nominating conventions of political parties. I am not sure this is something even the Africans, who have started imitating certain of our political malpractices, would like to copy this outrageous practice.

Perhaps if one could guarantee the accuracy and impartiality of these surveys, there might be some merit in assigning some value to their results. But my own personal experience, which I have discussed in previous columns, has shown me beyond all doubt that they are instruments of political manipulation and should never be trusted.

No survey is ever cost-free. So every survey is paid for by a particular sponsor. But in the case of the recent propaganda surveys, there was never any disclosure of anything. Not the name of the sponsor of the survey; not the reason why it was taken; not the manner the “samples” (interviewees) were chosen; not the questions asked or in what manner or sequence they were asked; not the margin of error used; nothing which professional pollsters elsewhere normally disclose.

In reporting the “results” of the survey, both the fraudsters and the media had no compunction in saying that 30 percent of all Filipinos, (if it was indeed 30 percent,) approved of Politician X, instead of simply saying “30 percent of 800 to 1,200 individuals interviewed Filipinos approved of Politician X. An entire planet separates 30 percent of 800 to 1,200 people from 30 percent of 100 million people. But the fraudsters and the complicit media have succeeded in wiping out that distinction. And the gullible public has swallowed the deception whole.

Because of this, even otherwise sensible men and women have started talking of “frontrunners” in a race that does not yet exist. Instead of asking whether they stand any chance of holding a clean and honest election, they are debating who among the non-candidates should get the people’s vote. Instead of discussing what kind of leader should replace the incumbent incompetent, they are quarreling about who is the “most winnable,” according to the 800 to 1,200 survey “samples” who may not even know the guys they are talking about. But they never ask the proper questions that should be asked.

Is Vice President Jejomar Binay guilty or not guilty of all the charges that have been hurled at him by his political enemies? Is Secretary Mar Roxas capable of overcoming his namby pamby do-nothing image? Can Grace Poe deny that she is not a natural-born Filipino, and that she has no right to sit in the Senate, much less aspire to become the president or vice-president?

I deeply regret that a colleague on this page has called Grace Poe “a disease of our politics.” I find that’s most unfortunate. But whatever our regrets, we have a Grace Poe with us because of the idiotization of our politics.


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  1. wrong title: It should be: The idiotization of Philippine Voters.
    There is nothing wrong with our electoral system: what is wrong is our bobotantes that continue to elect the wrong people.

  2. But Mr. Tatad, for you to say that, like Mr. Tiglao, you should have something to show that in the world you live in in those years that you were active in politics no such thing – idiotization – has happened. Had you done that I’m willing to go along with your theory because it was true that during the time of former President Marcos celebrities or those popular personalities were just props in politics. They only exist in their own world and were not known to be major players in politics. Marcos himself is known to appoint and select people who are intelligent and highly educated and experts in their chosen field to work in government. Like you, Mr. Tatad, you may not be popular but you were able to squeeze your self in because of your capability and intelligence. Popular people and/or celebrities back then were mere decorations particularly during election period. You can only see these people during campaign time when professional politicians go out to familiarize themselves with the public and attract people’s attention. And who is better to break the silence and provide name-recall for these politicians and be identified with popularity than the celebrities themselves? The only time you will see these stars and famous people is when they’re out campaigning for local and national politicians and provide entertainment during the lull to keep people awake and interested.

    So how come you did not mention that fact, the “intelligent part” in our political history, to show proof about the so-called ‘idiotization of our politics’ today? Exercising your right against self-incrimination?

  3. Wolfgang Struck on

    Here is a man who should at least sit in the Senate. Unfortunately for all good Filipinos a good man like Francisco “Kit” Tatad does not seem to have the “political backing” needed. Instead he is carrying a package of “youngest secretary under Marcos” (Information at that!). That has cost him dearly. He has been working for the best President and dared to leave him. That is a worthy accomplishment in itself. Plus: His regular columns are prime reading twice a week. What better candidates can we have? He knows but the idiots do not know. Sayang!

    Wolfgang Struck

  4. The media especially TV, print, broadcast, Cinema and paid surveys
    contribute to Idiotization of Philippine
    Politics. Many electorates cannot discern the real person from the reel.
    Many gullible voters fall for popularity and name recall instead of
    qualifications and competence.

  5. The truth is , Corykong Aquino and his allies , including his moronic son, had succeeded to bring the life of Filipino life into chaos and disaster. These is the AIM of this lunatic government. Idiot and stupid people were the ones who voted those policiticians allied by these yellow zombie cult mostly Liberal Party and some…As what Mr. Tatad viewed the message of this lunatic devil woman who wanted all the Filipino to suffer with more hardships in everyday life..
    Now where she is, she is now 6ft below the ground. God curse her and more on their families soon.

  6. on

    If I were to choose our national leaders to run the country, NOT one of the present crops of politicians are qualified – in terms of HONESTY, INTEGRITY, SINCERITY, DEDICATION, EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATION, RESPECT, FAMILY VALUES, and above all – FEAR OF GOD. The highly ambitious political shenanigans – Binay, Roxas, Grace Poe, Trillanes 1V, Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Lacson are bunch of idiots. Idiocy has a very wide latitude of coverage. There are highly educated who are idiots and stupid. And there are also unlettered idiots that are very stupid. These bunch of idiots who belong to the yellow mobs are the ones who, with their canine devotion to their masters would vote them into high office at all costs. The qualities and caliber of the present members of Congress are nothing but mediocre. Gone are the calibers of Sen. Ambrosio Padilla, Roseller Lim, Arturo Tolentino,. Raul Manglapus, Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tanada, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo, and many others with sterling qualities and professional capabilities. The Philippines is likened to a milking cow, very thin and sickly. We need someone with the caliber and with political will and savvy of Mayor Duterte-Bongbong Marcos tandem. GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES and to hell all political shenanigans and TRAPOS.

    • We need someone with the caliber and with political will and savvy of Mayor Duterte-Bongbong Marcos tandem.

      GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES and to hell all political shenanigans and TRAPOS.
      The first paragraph will really require us to do( to call and ask the assistance of the Divine Almghty) the second paragraph. And then we’re all doomed.

  7. As early as today, I have made up my mind not to vote in next year’s election. I just can’t stomach voting for Binay, Poe, Trillianes, Lacson or Cayetano. What a pitiful situation we are all in.

  8. Go ask the people who live in poverty and never had the chance to go or finish high school, that will tell you who the next president will be. Educated and morale are a tiny minority in the Philippines.

  9. Manuel Jaime jr on

    People become idiots because,no.1,they let themselves believe into unfounded and untrue history.2,they never bothered to check or scritinize events or happenings that comes in the form of a news if it really did happen or is only being alleged.3,Story tellers,newsreporters and book authors always,or are predominantly biased or untruthful to themselves in writing news items and history books that are constantly being fed to the public.And last’ly,it is always at the behest of our leaders for political mileage and propaganda achievements,that insincerity and truthfulness had become a normal way of telling their legacies to the unknowing public,in utter disregerd of the word ” HONESTY “.There you are,4 precise examples why majority of our electorates are dumb and IDIOTS.

  10. genesisbughaw on


    Dahil po sa kanilang intellectual dishonesty due to corruption naging mga idiot sila .

    deep bench pa nga daw e.

  11. Arlene Rafiq on

    I am not, will not or never will be part of this gullible public. I don’t buy the result of any surveys because I know it in my heart and mind that it’s a paid advertisement and not the true sentiment of the people. None of the “popular” politicians who have ambition to become president, to my knowledge are qualified. Some are incompetent, some are vividly known as corrupt, some don’t have the experience and some just don’t have the ability. The qualified ones have very little chance to win because of obvious reason, the citizenry are still living in the past that the sins of the father are the sins of the son or that a candidate has a mental disorder and because the result would definitely be manipulated by the corrupt officials. Our country’s future will forever be in the hands of evil doers unless the culture of gullibility is fixed and that is the hardest task at hand.

  12. jesus nazario on

    Kit: Is it IDIOTIZATION ? Or SHOW-BIZING ? Or it does not matter for these are essentially the same ?

  13. Yes Mr. Tatad, you said it right. Idiots are responsible for the political and economic ruin in this country. The question shouting for answer is: where are the sane citizens? Political discourse descend to a level of entertainment and gossip. Personalities replace principles as burning issues. Politicians engage in debates on trivial matters, oblivious and blind on where their political ward and constituency is heading to. The myopic visions, particularly afflicting those charlatans in Congress therefore has resulted in a confused national agenda. And for this, this country has retrogressed irreversibly.

  14. remy patriana on

    I use to rally during marcos dictatorship as they say… you are also an enigmatic person during that time.. we hate to see you on govt. controlled tv… but your comments and analysis made me restructure my strong bias against you being the propagandist of marcos. Indeed the vast majority of electorates are just plain stupid in electing leaders of this damned but beautiful country.. it made me even think that democracy is an exercize in futility for us filipinos.. benign dictatorship could be much better.. Duterte Marcos tandem seems to be the best option!

  15. Politicians are chosen among the people but most of the time as you said above, they popped out of the stupid crowd. The only solution to Philippine politics’ ills is education. But how will the young ones learn from their peers when the latter do not know or do not care about what is right or what is wrong? Well, we can still start within the family. Let us be a good example to our kids and perhaps they will learn the right way.

  16. P.Akialamiro on

    This article is well-said when it comes to the “so so”, “mediocre ” and “popular” candidates in Philippine politics. This kind of expose’ should be an on-going analysis of every candidate’s qualifications to give an idea to the electorate who is better or best qualified for any particular position aspired for, especially fthose aspiring for VP and president of the country and members of the senate.

    But, the problem in our country is that, many writers are not ‘independent’ and unscrupulous enough that they are at the ‘behest’ or ‘payroll’ of politicians. In other words, many writers are ‘corrupted’ by the monied politicians. The result is so glaring nowadays. Call it ‘stereotyping’, but that’s the inevitable result because that’s what we have all these years, and more are aspiring bcause of mere popularity without considering if their qualifications are fit ifir the position.

    Qualified or not qualified should not only be the criterion; track record of experience that fits into the tasks involved in the position should be carefully evaluated. Courage. determination, loyalty and WISDOM should be the primary criteria for the VP and President. It would be great “DISSERVICE” to the Filipino people by those aspiring for the two highest positions of the land if they don’t have the prime qualifications for the positions. To those accused of corruption, come to the voters with a clean slate first, not mere denials.

    Right on, Sen. Tatad!

  17. if Grace is really sincere, she should be honest with herself and to the Filipinos that she is not yet prepared for the enormous tasks of being a president. we need a candidate who has a track record in business or an accomplished and successful politician who has proven himself capable of governing a city or province.

    hindi pa ba tayo natuto noong panahon ni Cory at present administration ni Noynoy? if i were young and naive, I would vote for Grace. but let’s admit it, sincerity in helping the poor and honesty are not enough if we want to have a good government and successful economy.

    perhaps i may be wrong with my impressions of Grace, but can’t she wait for some more years and prove to us then that she is worthy to become president?

  18. Felimon A. Soria on

    Thank you Mr. Tatad for an enlightening piece of opinion. I just wish that us Filipinos specially the voters read your column.