Friday, December 4, 2009

Good elites, bad elites

Is elitism really a scourge in this country? Not quite, says Joey de Venecia III. There are families which have carved dynasties that benefitted the people. Example would be the Binays of Makati City, the Osmenas, and other familiar names in Philippine politics.

What is contemptible, says Joey in his latest press statement, is when families such as the Arroyos dominate the political scene with impunity. Hence, says Joey, all opposition parties should repulse another attempt by the Arroyos to perpetuate themselves in power.

Okey, so what I gathered so far is, there are elites who are essentially good because they serve the people well, and there are those whose passion and desires are simply for self-aggrandizement. Accepted.

Now, I ask myself---what was the cause why families such as the Arroyos can actually perpetuate themselves in power without even, nay, feeling nauseous for doing so? Simple question nets a very simple answer--because existing laws allow them to. For those who study politics, politics is not an ethical nor a moral game. It is a game played by those whose desire is simply get and maintain themselves in power. Period. If the rules of the land say that you can actually field your wife, your brother, your sister, your mother, your father and your in-laws while you youself hold an elective post, you can do so because of the absence of an enabling law against political dynasties.

To change all of these, we must address the root cause of such---either enact an enabling law against political dynasty OR simply build transformative and responsible politics. The former is doable; the latter, we have a long way to go.

But of course, it is easy to say this, given that we are just saying what is possible or doable and what are not doables.

The next question that we need to answer is this---are our elites desire to simply do what is right? Probably, no. As I said, politics is not and will never be ethical simply because the way to power is not a moral struggle.

If the elites don't desire to correct the wrongs wrought by their inability to create or craft an enabling law, then, the only way to do this is eradicate the very system they use to perpetuate themselves in power. This is doable but possible, no. For the very levers of the system prevent outsiders from actually causing a breakdown of the system.

One example would be the process of elections. Elections is designed as the democratic means towards equalizing the political spectrum. How can elections be used as an effective deterrent against political dynasties when it is not as credible as we hope it is?

There are, however, models that counter this, one of which is what happened in Isabela, where Grace Padaca defeated the Dys. Or that of Pampanga when a priest, Ed Panlilio, gave the Lapids and the jueteng lords some beating. These models are, of course, local, not national. Will there be a time when nationally accepted political dynastic families crumble against weaker opponents? Possibly not doable under a self-perpetuating system of political patronage.