The recent article Excellence of Execution by Marck Rimorin on his Marocharim.com provides very good insight into some very flawed notions in the way we regard the electorate’s role in a democracy and what is expected of our politicians.
I’ve for some time studied the counter-positions to our Platform, plez™ drive taken by many of the Establishment bloggers that continue to cling to relevance in the National “Debate”. Many of the lamer of these counter-positions hinged upon romanticism and sentimentality have since been dissected into their component parts each of which are all now sitting pickled in little labelled bottles to gather dust on our shelf of obsolete primitivist thought.
In his recent article, Marck successfully articulates the one remaining counter-position that soundly puts forth a case for a significant part of being President of the Philippines to which platforms do not apply. And that part, is the role the President takes as administrator.
Consider the kernel of Marck’s article:
In the end, the best President for the Philippines is someone who can execute and uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land. The President is not a legislator, and he or she is not an adjudicator. The President is an executor. So far, our past Presidents have failed to deliver on that.
Indeed, an administrator is no more than a custodian of a system and its processes and by-laws. In a sense Marck is right. The adminstrator merely executes within a legacy frame. In short, Marck sees the Presidency as no more than an Administrator role.
But to me, being the President of a major country is more than just being a mere administrator. For me, being the President means being a leader of a people. Marck’s limited concept of the Presidency therefore results in a failure of thinking along three points:
(i) A lack of clarity around the place a platform takes among other artefacts of state governance:
the laws of the land and the Constitution, taken collectively, is the “document” [i.e. the platform] you demand from the presidentiables
(ii) The flawed premise of societal change as necessarily originating only from legislation:
A platform is not the business of someone who executes. I say, direct the “platform plez (TM)” question to the legislative, not to the people running for President.
– and –
(iii) A retrospective (rearward-looking) rather than prospective (forward-looking) outlook:
For me, the task is to elect the best executive based on qualifications, track record, competence, public sentiment, which may not necessarily be the person with the best Binibining Pilipinas answer-slash-platform, which is basically what you’re looking for.
Thus my verdict:
I don’t think so Marck.
To be fair you actually make it easy for me as you pretty much articulate the fundamental flaw in your argument that, itself, is the common denominator across the three points I raise above:
The plan is already there (Constitution, legislation, general appropriations)
The Constitution is the philosophical infrastructure upon which administrative and governance operations are applied and, for that matter, where the general character of our society generally takes its cue from. The Chief Executive’s campaign platform (or that of his party to which his pitch should be consistent with) is the plan to guide his leadership over governance operations over the course of his term. Presumably these operations are geared not just to (Role A) maintaining the minimum functional requirements of government (those things you cite — consistency with the Constitution, compliance to “legislation” (read The Law), and subjection to general appropriations) but also to (Role B) move the society forward towards a set of development goals.
The earlier (Role A) is a no-brainer and need not be subject to debate in a mature campaign to begin with. They should for the most part be enshrined in the very DNA of the society we fancy to be “democratic”. Making “upholding the Constitution” or “complying with The Law” or “observing the Budget” one’s campaign pitches is no different from the moronism of ordering the Police to “solve the crime” whenever a crime occurs.
The latter (Role B) implies the existence of a plan or roadmap to take us from an A-state to a B-state. The candidate should describe the envisioned State of the Nation at various milestones in his term (the most important of these will be at the end — the B-State — of his term). This plan is first pitched to the public during his campaign and then updated over the course of his term subject to changing conditions that are unforeseen at the time of the formulation of said plan.
The effort to achieve the goals of this plan (every plan has them) involves the following components:
(1) work at achieving these goals within the framework of existing laws (consistent with the no-brainer Role A); and,
(2) identify impediments/challenges to achieving these goals that lie within the framework of existing laws and propose changes in legislation to mitigate these identified impediments and challenges.
The Chief Executive does Component 1 almost exclusively. He can do some of Component 2 and will more likely work with legislators to achieve part of it.
As can be seen so far, Role B (moving the society forward towards a set of goals) encompasses Components 1 and 2 and is what defines a true leader. On the other hand, Role A (business-as-usual) is the smaller of the two, is limited to doing only Component 1, and merely distinguishes a good administrator.
We need to raise the bar and elect leaders. It is a formidable challenge in Philippine society considering, as Marck points out, that we cannot even elect good administrators and are, in reality, stuck at electing mere posterboys that offer nothing more than their pedigrees and vacuous platitudes.