Perhaps if our “activists” focused more on creating buzzes around real issues rather than on presuming to police the campaign tactics of our politicians and auditing their token fly-by-night “platforms” we’d gain more traction around creating a more issues-based political discourse. Indeed, unless you are as brilliant as Lee Kuan Yew, there is little point in attempting to legislate good manners in one’s society much less trying to impose “measures” to induce “intelligent” voting this coming elections.
It seems our so-called “thought leaders” are forgetting that democracy is, in essence, a bottom-up regime. Yet within the ranks of the “intelligentsia” who are calling for the top-down rollout of “rules” to curtail politicians’ efforts to disseminate information about themselves to the electorate are the very same choir members renowned for singing praises at the altar of the “people’s will.” If you want issues to rule the election then “activists”, social media “practitioners”, and their followers should remain consistent to issues as the primary currency of their chatter.
Focus on creating buzzes around issues and voters (if we are to go by the assumption that social media chatter matters) will remain focused on issues. Focus on creating buzzes around rules that restrict campaign behaviour and we get an electorate made up of bozos who will be focused on form rather than substance.
Are these elections a contest scored on the basis of who has a platform, how much stuff are in these “platforms”, how many or how few campaign posters are being put up in accordance with the “rules”, and how “engaging” and “respectful” our politicians are of social media “practitioners'” demands for interviews? Seems like it is all heading in that direction if we are to take stock of the focus of election activism today — a focus on form. Where is the focus on substance? As Yoda say: difficult to see.
Substance has never been a strong feature in any aspect of Filipino life, and elections. As such the quantity of information is irrelevant. Commie legislator Teodoro Casiño Jr argues that unlimited campaign airtime in the nation’s media outlets “favored wealthy candidates or those backed by the ruling elite,” making it impossible for “poor and cash-strapped candidates [like himself]” to compete.
Of course commies would argue that. They are the same bozos who would argue for a centrally-controlled distribution of wealth in the spirit of “fairness” (form) while ignoring the reality of the likely superiority of the products (substance) whose development and marketing are funded by bottom-up minimally-regulated allocation of foreign and domestic capital (which is the way modern financial systems work). If we are to accept Casiño’s position, we may as well curtail the ad spending of multinationals so that poor and cash-strapped sellers of owner-type stainless jeeps stand a chance against the sleek ads of automotive behemoths like Toyota and Mitsubishi.
We “educate” consumers to be discriminating buyers and wise spenders while applying very little regulation on the marketing and advertising practices of producers and marketers. We educate consumers by providing them enough information about issues to surrounding the products they are at liberty to choose. That’s in the spirit of the free market.
Presumably we also live by democracy’s spirit of upholding the average schmoe’s entitlement to free exercise of the power to choose leaders and representatives. So following the principles of the free market we so love and keenly practice, our approach to “educating” voters should be about the issues surrounding their options and how voters’ understanding of these issues determine who they vote for — not on this or that “rule” around how much or how little information their candidates are allowed to disseminate about themselves. That is a pact solely between candidate and voter. Let the free markets (for goods, services, and votes) float freely. Let freedom of expression reign, and let the Philippine Government reflect the character of its subjects as closely as possible. This is after all what democracy is all about — a government of the people by the people and for the people.
Control freaks and communists should make like ducks and butt out.
* * *
If there is something about campaigns that needs to be limited, perhaps it should be the amount of time President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III spends on the campaign trail on behalf of his henchmen. That activity, after all, is funded by taxpayers’ money. Kris Aquino should be outraged.
[Photo courtesy Yahoo! New.]