[…] our political practice is more oriented towards coalitions; and the coalitions, too, require time to hammer out a common platform as the basis of uniting to support specific candidates. The broader the coalition, the longer and more complicated the consensus process required to arrive at a platform becomes.
In making the above assertion, the Noted Blogger, Mr. Manuel L. Quezon III, attempts to excuse (1) the continued lack of focus on issues in the National “Debate” leading up to the 2010 Presidential Elections and (2) the embodiment of that intellectual bankruptcy — a lack of published platforms among the most popular candidates of the moment. But in doing so he unwittingly makes an observation that begs an even more fundamental question about Philippine politics:
Why does Philippine “political practice” favour coalitions — ones that need to coalesce out of the woodwork of undifferentiated stand-for-nothing groups, “parties”, and “movements” at every election?
It’s like our politics re-inventing the wheel every six years. In effect, the ideological and philosophical pool is wastefully re-developed from virtually nothing in the months leading up to just about every election. Nothing is carried over from the past — none of its hindsight and therefore none of its learnings. And that assumes that there are ideologies and philosophies that underlie these shape-shifters to begin with.
The real point to be highlighted here, therefore, is the answer to the above question:
The Philippine “political practice” favours coalitions because there is no collective philosophical framework in our society of sufficient substance to encourage the endurance of stable political parties over time.
Coalitions are election winning machines. The point of their existence (at a given moment) is hinged on a specific short-term goal — to win an election. In the corporate setting, coalitions are the equivalent of committees or ad hoc project teams (in contrast with the permanent organisational units like departments and divisions that have long-term significance to the enterprise). Coalitions shift in shape and composition to adapt to the landscape of winnability of the moment. As such, a society whose most noted political “experts” debate on winnability rather than on issues and whose voters vote with their gut instead of their brains is not surprisingly cursed with a political system “oriented towards coalitions”.
So the Noted Blogger continues…
[…] you cannot have a platform if you are a leader without followers and the association of leaders and followers is the party or coalition; and that coalition or party has to coalesce before it can unveil its platform.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? That is, if one imprisons their thinking within the context of what makes sense in the sort of “democracy” a backward society like the Philippines practices.
Quezon also implies in that blog post that the onus is on those voters who want to carefully evaluate their options to trawl through piles of disparate transcripts of public statements made by candidates in interviews and debates over time and piece them together to form a picture that they can use to make their evaluations. He embeds several Scribd documents to serve as examples of sites that could be mined for nuggets of information to add to one’s progressively crystallising personal picture of what a candidate stands for — or so the theory goes.
Excuse me, but I beg to differ. It should be the other way around.
Why don’t the voters do themselves a favour and demand that the politicians do that job for them? Rather than politicians dish out disjoint sound bites piecemeal and expect the voters to collate useful information from them, why don’t these politicians step up and collate a comprehensive document articulating in a coherent and structured manner the positions they take across relevant matters and present that to their constituents? In such a way, the process is reversed. Voters would take that document and use it as a BASELINE for assessing whether the chatter dished out by politicians during their campaign is consistent with it.
As a person aspiring to lead a people, a presidential candidate should put the structure out FIRST and then use it to frame and guide the chatter in his subsequent campaign. We as voters need to STEP UP and DEMAND that our politicians do it this way. Why should voters be the ones scrounging around for pieces of the puzzle and connecting the dots? The onus should be on politicians to come up with a written and published document of connected dots.
Elections are about the future. So therefore candidates should take a prospective regard for his candidacy instead of a retrospective one — which means running on a real platform that describes what he envisions will happen over his term.
So much for being an apologist for what is but a mere symptom of the underlying disease — our society’s intellectual bankruptcy. in bringing to light this underlying disease, consider now if the coming of the start of the “official campaign period” even matters.