ELECTIONS: Cyclic and Viscious
“Politicians are Machiavellians—by default and by design.”
This is how elections in my country (and in many parts of the world) may be described… CYCLIC and VICIOUS! Say viciously cyclic if you may.
Elections are repeated every 6 years for the Presidential derby and every 3 years for the so-called “mid-term elections” where 12 of the incumbent 24 senators finish their term and the people get to vote for their replacements. It is also during this time that members of the House of Representatives and local officials on the regional (for autonomous regions), provincial, city, municipal and “barangay” are elected. More often than not that the regional and the barangay elections are held irregularly, much to the delight of the incumbents in those geographic units.
Election is CYCLIC not because of the foregoing though. It is CYCLIC because of some conspicuous patterns of behaviors and events that would take place a few months before elections.
The incumbents, after hibernating in their air-conditioned offices and luxurious homes for a couple of years would suddenly come out in the open and initiate projects like road repairs and widening, construction of additional classrooms in public schools, medical and dental missions and other socio-civic projects. Then they will run for re-election, if lady luck laughs on them and they get re-elected, then they will again go into hibernation and just re-appear when the next campaign period comes. CYCLIC! Isn’t it?
Nowadays you would see maneuverings being done by politicians through their political leaders in the locales where they are seeking election (or re-election). They are mustering support and building alliances. They are putting forth organizations under the pretext that they would be helping the members have better lives.
Politicians would dangle as baits a few hundred of pesos and/or a bag of goodies for those who will register as members of the organization. They would indirectly buy the support of unsuspecting voters who because of poverty would bite. But immediately after elections, the organizations, whether or not their politician-benefactors win, will die a natural death then again resurrect on the next election period. Isn’t that CYCLIC?
Whenever you see in the roadsides billboards and streamer where written are words like “PROJECT OF HON. WHO E. VER” you are almost certain that elections are forthcoming
What are the other signs of the time (time for elections)?
Promises! Promises! Promises!
Suddenly, politicians who would dare not get out of their luxury cars during ordinary days would be walking, even in the muddiest rice paddies, greeting and shaking the hands of just about anybody. Smiling to just about anybody.
You would see the politicians everywhere… in wakes, in the market, in schools, in terminals…everywhere! Yeah, even on TV… there you would see them suddenly embracing an advocacy… championing a certain cause. But where are they between the period after the election and before they become visible again… Where? Boracay? Dakak? Or in a cruise ship either in the Mediterranean or Carribean? Perhaps in Las Vegas.
Cyclic! So cyclic…
Consider this… A politician, let’s say a Mayor can no longer run due to term limits. So, his wife will run for the position he previously held. Then that politician will run for another post…as Governor perhaps. Assuming both the politician and his wife win and luckily get re-elected until they reach their term limits is it the end?
Hell no! The couple will ask their son or daughter to run for Mayor. What about the mother?She will run for the post vacated by the husband-politician. She will run as Governor. What about the husband? He will perhaps run either as Congressman or even Senator. In case all family members win then for years that the power will run circles within the same family. The son (or daughter) is a mayor, the mother a governor and the father either as Congressman or Senator. When term limits are reached then they will just run for the position that a family member would vacate. Some siblings, and even in-laws, in the family are also occupying minor positions in the geographical unit where they reside.
Then of course they will tell the people that they do not belong to a political dynasty…but a family of public servants. Oh common…that’s a lot b&((@^%! Please define “political dynasty.” Please explain what a “public servant” is.
It seems that the only competent leaders in the different regions of the country are only those belonging to the same political clan lording it over in those areas since time immemorial. If so, then PHILIPPINES please evaluate the performance of these leaders who came from the same political clans who held the reins of power since VIVA ESPANA and HAIL AMERICA left the archipelago.
The same family names…same genes…in the seats of power in the country for decades now…same economic and socio-political performance for the country… round and round we’re going circles…CYCLIC…dizzying.
For the adjective VICIOUS, Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives the following definitions: “malicious,” “having the nature or quality of vice or immorality” and “dangerously aggressive.”
Even the simplest of minds can explain why the elections are VICIOUS?
Election is an important democratic exercise. It gives the electorate a chance to put into office the best and the most qualified among candidates. However, both the politicians and the electorate desecrated the electoral process.
The exercise of suffrage has become tainted and impure with the politicians doing just about anything just to win. Even to the point of killing. Remember the Maguindanao massacre? Remember the death tolls during the elections and the corresponding campaign periods. VICIOUS maybe an understatement!
So malicious and impure have elections become. It has become so VICIOUS. You would witness a lot of mudslinging during this period. Politicians have developed the propensity of opening their opponents’ “cans of worms” in order to cast doubts on their integrity. Indeed, anyone who wishes to run for any elective position must develop the art of exposing the chinks in his opponent’s armor while at the same time ensuring that the dirty tricks department of the other party would not be able to see the skeletons he is keeping in his closet.
What has become a dictum for politicians is the worse the publicity on their opponents are the better their chances of winning become. Well, that dictum is a lesser evil as compared to the idea that “the higher is their possibility of winning if some of their opponents would be dead.”
Politicians are Machiavellian—by default and by design.
Then surprise of all surprises, politicians throwing mud at one another during the past elections would become allies in the next election. This is the politics of the new era.
More surprising is the fact that in some areas there are politicians who would be virtually unopposed. It is either they are too good as incumbents that running against them in the next elections is both a political and a financial suicide. Or negotiations and backdoor dealings may have taken place.
The vote that is supposed to be sacred has become like a commodity in the market, it now has a tag price.
Vote buying is VICIOUSLY rampant. This is public knowledge.
The question nowadays is “Can a politician nowadays come forward and claim that he has never attempted to buy votes?”
What is sad is that the voters have become more than willing to cast their votes on the candidates who would give the highest bid. For them, the ability and qualifications of the candidates are not important. What counts is how much is a candidate willing to pay for their votes.
For P500 or P1000 (okay make it bigger, P2000), the voters are unwittingly selling their votes… their dignity… their future.
Thus, elections have become a business of sort. Candidates would be investing by buying votes and then they will have a chance to recoup their investments, with corresponding interests, when they are elected into office. And how? Through numerous commissions from government projects? By directly dipping into the coffers of the government?
Another question is: Can a politician come forward and declare that he is willing to spend millions of pesos during elections just to get elected for the sake of “public service” and expect nothing in return?
On the issue of vote buying, the politicians are not the only ones to be blamed. Equally guilty are the voters who put a tag price on their votes. “It takes two to tango,” so goes the saying.
But hope springs eternal. The vicious cycle will eventually come to an end.
The viciousness of the cycle ends when finally the voters remove the tag price from their votes.
The viciousness of the cycle ends when the voters put into office the new generation of politicians… those who will be consistent with their commitment of serving the public… those unwilling to buy a single vote… those who will not suddenly come out on national TV and camouflage their political ambitions by suddenly embracing an advocacy only when an election is forthcoming… those who will run not for the sake of keeping alive a political dynasty… those who are visible not only during election periods… and those who will seek public office for the sake of public service and not because of the cravings for power and more money.
It is in the hands… in the conscience of the voters. Lest we forget, WE DESERVE THE LEADERS WE ELECT!