The world’s two super-powers just elected their leader. America voted for Obama with 118 million going to the polls. China ostensibly elected Xi Jinping but that is hard to tell because only a roomful of people (out of 1.3 billion) had anything to do with it.
The Philippines is itself into the election season. In theory about 40 million will choose the nation’s direction but in reality, like China, only a handful might do so. Thus, by June next year we could well have a Senate that is 25% controlled by three families, over 50% by overstaying incumbents, and a House that is dominated by less families than can fit in a bus. By 2016 this will include the Presidency. Philippine politics is becoming a family affair.
Political dynasties is like jaywalking, it is forbidden by law but nobody pays attention. There are calls for a boycott of political names and for a change in our culture but these are wailings in the wind. We need a real alternative if we are not to become slaves to political incest.
A family dynasty is defined as a monopoly of political power by a group related by blood and perpetuated over time. It is an ecosystem where power begets money and awareness, money and awareness translates to votes, and votes to power.
To break this loop there must be an alternative that is viable and attractive. It must have an ideology, it must be organized, it must be sustainable, and it must be funded. It must have a plan.
Here is a thought.
What if an entity already existed which could provide a second (or even first) choice to voters? What if such a vehicle has the makings of a platform but just needs a make-over? What if the platform, now new and improved, has a real chance to set the national agenda and allow the President to cast his shadow in 2016 and beyond?
That entity exists. It is called the Liberal Party. One can build a political movement from scratch but given the short fuse to 2016, why not harness an existing organization that has the seeds of an ideology and grow it organically and through partnerships? The LP is also the party in power so it can provide instant gratification, it can make things happen. All it needs is a re-launch.
One, it requires organization. The LP leadership presently consists of the President as titular head and Mar Roxas, Butch Abad and Jun Abaya as its officers, but all are busy running a country. The LP needs the equivalent of the Democratic and Republican National Committees, a full time team of professional operatives who will tend to the nuts and bolts of political distribution, voter mobilization, community and local Government relations, and funding; the ground game that wins elections.
Two, the LP needs to rapidly grow a cadre of new leaders, fresh political faces who can compete against dynastic siblings and pop stars. We need the likes of Rissa Hontiveros, Neuric Acosta, Grace Padaca and Leni Robredo who will resonate with the young, the intelligentsia and the underprivileged. They are out there, they just need to be brought up to speed.
Three, it should target the country’s youth (defined as 18-35) through, say, a Young liberal Party. The young are the demographics. They have the numbers, the idealism and the energy. They are the future. If the LP can harness 1 million young foot soldiers, with family and friends on a factor of 5, this translates to a bloc of 5 million votes or over 12% of the expected electorate. This should be enough to lock in the Presidency and the Senate. The margin of victory of any President has not exceeded 10% in any prior, reasonably honest election.
Four, the LP must build a brand. It should leverage the popularity of P-Noy and double-brand it with its own. P-Noy and the LP should be marketed as one. The goal is for LP candidates, local or national, to be the default in the electoral ballot: When in doubt voters should tick the LP standard bearer.
Five, the LP needs to strengthen its political distribution. It must populate local Government and partner with NGOs for community outreach and livelihood. The youth will respond to the power of an idea but more so if complemented by sustainability measures.
Six, the LP requires funding. This is the easiest part. There is enough private money out there if the right political plan is in place.
The Philippines is at an historic juncture where it can, just possibly, in the next 3 1/2 years escape from the growing tentacles of dynastic politics. The backdrop is in place: The economy is moving, the Supreme Court, the Ombudsman and the President are on-side. All it needs is leadership, focus, organization and a public voice. Time is short but we must try and try now for the alternative is just too scary to imagine.