• The yellows are in a political quicksand

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    ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

    THE yellows still don’t get it. The more they maneuver, the more they sink deeper into a political quicksand.

    And it looks like despite their enormous intellectual arsenal firmly grounded in the top universities of the country where they have a lot of academic enablers, they fail to spin a narrative that is based on reality, and not just on the mythologies of hate that they thought would last forever since 1986.

    Well, nothing lasts forever, more so if what you have is just based on socially constructed illusions that subsist on hate, hoping that the people will forever not have the resources to construct their own alternative truths.

    The tragedy of the yellows is that their politics is one of hate, and is not based on any ideological grounding that defines the ideal in a positive way. It doesn’t even have to be a utopian paradise, but simply a statement of an aspiration for the Filipino people.

    Their slogans tell it all. Never again. Block Marcos. Stop the killings.

    But they never clearly articulate towards what end, one that is concrete and palpable, and not just empty rhetoric.

    And when they prescribe a political action, they betray a sense of messianic arrogance that extols their virtues by demeaning those of others. They infantilize the people by treating us as wards to be rescued from evil, or educated because we are ignorant, or converted and saved because we are lost.

    Maria Ressa wanted to retake the Internet that she thinks is being polluted by ordinary netizens. Risa Hontiveros audaciously announced that they are out to take back democracy that was stolen, as if they own its franchise. Marites Vitug exhorted public intellectuals of the yellow kind to civilize the national conversation.

    The yellow narrative is deeply mired in victimization, effectively robbing citizens of their human agency. Their narratives explode in anger about victims of martial law, human rights abuses and maldevelopment, but without a blueprint of an alternative. In fact, they may not be interested in an alternative. After all, the lifeblood of their narratives is about the victims and their victimization, and not about solutions and moving forward.

    Thus, their politics is all about cultivating the pain and the hatred to keep their narratives relevant. This is the reason why they would like that people should never forget, even if it means not being able to move forward because moving forward would deny their political enablers the stories that they would tell during political rallies. Their placards would be bereft of the convenient slogans that they have long painted. They have to develop new scripts for their political performances.

    And the yellow politicians will have to devise new strategies, and begin to think that their role is not to just expose corruption, but to offer viable political alternatives in the form of public policy.

    But it seems that they are so used to the negative, naysaying, investigating type of politics epitomized by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th that the real meaning of public policy is lost in their minds.

    It is one thing for yellow bloggers who insist that they are objective journos or of theater artists acting out their political biases to be confused about what public policy entails. But when a senator like Risa Hontiveros insists that public policy is simply what the President says, then the political opposition really has a problem. No wonder Hontiveros and her cohorts are trying so hard to corrupt well-established political science concepts and paint the President as a tyrant and a fascist. This is the only way they can justify their notion that whatever the President says now automatically becomes state policy.

    The yellows have demonized the Marcoses, and if they have their way they would keep on doing this precisely because it keeps their narratives afloat.

    The yellows would like to paint the Marcoses as evil, yet a closer perusal of the discursive narratives and practices of the Marcos children, particularly in the acts and speeches of Bongbong and Imee Marcos, what one can discern is a well-defined focus on ideals, visions and concrete alternatives on how to move forward.

    The yellows treat President Duterte as the devil incarnate, as the alleged architect of state-sanctioned murder even of children. Yet, a closer examination of the President’s actions reveal a person who, while flawed, is sincerely working to deliver to people concrete relief from their poverty and fears.

    The Marcoses and President Duterte offer the people a vision and a way to learn from the lessons of history, pick up the pieces and imagine the nation as we move forward.

    On the other hand, the yellows continue to paint a narrative of hate and victimization, using memes, placards and political theatrics without offering concrete political programs. The yellow political opposition and their enablers in media, the arts, civil society and academe simply want the people to never forget Martial Law, stop the killings and block Marcos, even as they would like to retake the Internet, take back democracy and civilize the national conversation because the people do not know better.

    In 1986, they had the monopoly of the manufacturing of narratives. Aided by their enablers who fell victim to the excesses of martial law, they freely sequestered not only the wealth of Marcos and his cronies, but also the processes of storytelling and myth-making.

    But times have changed. The age of social media has enabled the emergence of counter-narratives that challenge this one-sided myth-making. What the yellows derisively call as historical revisionism, others would call as simply making efforts to make our narratives honest, balanced and fair. And if the yellows keep on infantilizing and patronizing the people with whom they disagree as ignorant, or worse, complicit, they will certainly keep on losing and alienating these people. They would end up sinking further in the political quicksand where they are now.

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