The Season Of Madness

May 9 2010

Madness is sometimes defined as the act of doing the same thing over and over again in the expectation of a different outcome. In this sense our political system is madness. Let me explain.

Every so often, Filipinos get to choose representatives that will supposedly fulfill the collective will of the nation. It is called an election. In this ritual we vote men and women into office, pay the taxes that will financially support them and their families, and allot them carte blanche to spend the people’s hard earned money for nation building and the greater good.

Under their social contract with the people these elected representatives are to work hard to pass laws that are just and fair, implement programs that will educate our young, protect our environment, create jobs, make us safe, care for the sick, provide shelter for the homeless and generally do well for the nation.

As we know, these representatives (also known as politicians after possibly some Greek word for dishonest and deceitful) in fact do just the opposite. They perform no semblance of work, behave in a boorish manner and find all means to line their pockets with our hard earned money. The only time they actually break into a sweat is come election time when for a period of 90 days they come a courting, promising sweet nothings and acting as if we are their only care in the world.

The presidential candidate will claim that he has in business made money for himself and therefore can do the same for the populace and they believe him. They forget that the operative phrase is “money for himself”. For a politician, elected office is not a public service, it is a business plan.

Now you would think that after over 60 years of this political con job we, the people, would have figured it out and put a halt to it. But no, we keep going back for more, electing the same dupesters into power, hoping this time the outcome will be different. Hence the madness.

This much vaunted process is called democracy which in the Philippine context is the political equivalent of self flagellation.

People are fooled time and time again because they don’t know any better but mainly because they are economically desperate. In this sense there can be no true political democracy without meaningful economic democracy. The axis between money and politics must be severed, the Filipino freed from the feudal bondage that ties him to his economic master, to his political patron. Otherwise we are doomed to a vicious cycle where time and again we elect to office the very people that do us harm.

May 10 is yet another occasion to display our political madness. Or maybe this time it will be different.

On this date, barring widespread fraud, we have the opportunity to say enough is enough, the chance to choose representatives that are honest, independent minded, thoughtful, and compassionate. The most important among these choices is for our President.

We must elect a President that will fulfill the social covenant with the people. We want a President that will level the playing field, punish the corrupt and empower the spirit, imagination, work and natural goodness of the Filipino. We want a President that is honest and actually cares for this nation.

To accomplish these the President that we elect need not be a wealthy businessman, a bar topnotcher, a competent administrator nor even a charismatic leader. For he will not be alone, he will be in the company of 85 million Filipinos across the range of class, religion, and economic standing that under the right environment will propel themselves, find their own way to the promised land.

The Filipino is not looking for superman to secure his effort. He just seeks the setting that will allow him to unleash the hero in him, give him the opportunity to attain his own greatness. He has accomplished this in foreign shores, he now wants to achieve this in his native land next to his family and friends.

We have the occasion to accomplish historic things on May 10. Let us exercise our vote judiciously and not revert to the madness that has characterized the elections of yesteryears.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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