Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why do Filipinos elect political clans into office and charlatans to national posts?

Boo Chanco's Facebook update today seems to have come up with an interesting thread. He says that most people whom he talked to were disappointed by the choice of Senators. Middle class sentiments really, for Twitter and FB updates reflect that. But, are these rational outbursts?

I tend to agree with Boo's analysis that voters vote the way they do because they see these politicians as their lifeline with government. In rural areas, the only way people feel about government is thru the mayor and the councilors. These people help them in their times of great need. Senators and even the President do not.

So, voters tend to vote for those whom they see as "madaling lapitan", because that is how they see or define what a politician is---somebody whom you can approach and ask for help. This explains why most of those who won yesterday were either members of a political dynasty or someone old yet perceived to be rich, not just in experience but in "making miracles".

Boo Chanco is right when he says that people or voters themselves reinforce the patron-client relationship because they have no choice. Between a candidate who already "delivered" or who has a record of "service" and another who is young and is only a visionary,the masses would surely vote for the one who already has proven himself capable of delivering the goods so to speak.

This explains why, on our point of view, this behavior is irrational, because members of the middle class perceive democracy differently from what the masses think about democracy. In the middle class view, elections are ways of electing "rational" people in office. For the people, elections is one way of electing those who can help them ease their economic situation or their lives at least.

Now, why do we elect newbies and charlatans to national posts?

For many voters, national posts like Senators and Presidents are just for "entertainment". Since these people are very far from their lives--their acts do not impact on the day-to-day lives of the people---people elect them for their entertainment value.

Look at the very composition of the Senate and tell me how many really deserves their posts?

We elect the likes of Miriam Santiago not just she's erudite (according to her), but because we are entertained by her uncanny wit and demeanor. Her nature is a palengkera, no doubt about it. We associate her with our resident manay who regularly goes to the town sari-sari store to debate what's happening in our barangay.

We have action stars as senators and why were they elected? Because we want them to stir the brew so to speak with their silence and antics.

We have people like Trillanes and Honasan there because they represent our hidden desires to oust this Republic with a bimbang. We have a former top cop as senator because we always desired order.

We have lawyers as senators because we think that these people are only good talkers and they represent what we think should be the serious business of the Senate, which is legislation.

Now, we just elected a Nancy Binay as our senator and why is that? Nancy Binay represents what to us, a good opportunity to really deliver our message to these so-called "Honorables". O, see, we only think of this institution as a place for OJT's. Nothing serious about the Senate. You can elect whoever for as long as they entertain us.

Nancy Binay will be no different. Yes, she will provide the much needed entertainment we need, enough to convince us to perpetually hope that things will get better.