Is the presidency simply swag in the bucket list of the elite?

A recent probing analysis by the NY Times (edsall-toe-to-toe) shows that despite being outspent 3 to 1 in an ad war, the Obama campaign retains an edge. The article presents an intelligent analysis, one that prompts me to think and now write. What I find is that this U.S. Presidential race has lessons for the people of the Philippines.

Why do we vote to begin with? Amid our busy lives, what drives us to the polls? — It is the sum effect of our best judgment and subjective assessment of a candidate over time.

Romney proved in Debate #1 and his most honest 47% comment what we have long assumed and suspected — that, like an insecure, self-important teen who covets being the Homecoming King, he will tell us anything we want to hear.

The Presidency is much more than a popularity contest. More to the point, it is no trinket, it is no swag to be had on a bucket list for the elite. It is a serious responsibility, a serious position deserving only a most serious, honorable person.

This is where the Philippines comes in. For all of its history these have been true:

(1) despite having 50% of the population, only once has there been a woman president,
(2) despite a strong civil sector, those elected to the presidency have been members of the power elite (i.e., members of the economic, military, political elite and political dynasties), and
(3) despite an educated public, the Catholic Church continues to have a stronghold in how the public thinks,  maintaining a culture of mendacity and shallowness in public discourse.

My point? — Filipinos have a dismal record in choosing a worthy president.

To my mind, prioritizing substance over style, gravitas over celebrity, public welfare over personal gain are lessons not enough Filipinos have yet learned. As our country stands before a real opportunity to join the community of great nations, it is time to do so.

It is time to behave more intelligently, to think more critically, to act more boldly and with bigger cajones!

A vote is a conscious, personal choice about the future for all. It is not an inconvenient obligation, or a commodity to be sold, or a token of your socio-political protest.

How we choose to vote symbolizes the commitment we each have to our families, children, grandchildren, and what kind of life we want them to live.

Our vote decides more than the head of a fleeting administration; it decides the policies that remake our social, economic, and political reality — the context, the conditions within which we must live out our personal lives. It defines our other choices, what we think of ourselves, how we live our lives, what we expect of our selves, and in which direction we should go together.

From this perspective, it is clear that who we elect as our leader, as our president is no trinket, no symbolic window-dressing for our country.

Most importantly, the presidency is no swag in the bucket list of the elite. We should not be fooled into thinking that any member of the elite is entitled to our vote so that he may have the presidency. We should not be fooled to vote against the people’s genuine interests, or to think that the elite are naturally more deserving of the presidency.

Any perception that the presidency must be the domain of the elite is socially constructed — is made up — and actively peddled by dominant forces that want to maintain their power and privilege. Instead, consider it as the domain of the most serious, most prepared, and most able among us to lead us.

Our vote is very personal, indeed. It shapes the context of our life; s we must value it as such. We must exercise our most intelligent version of self when we elect our leaders, from the barrio captain all the way to who gets to be the president.

Doing otherwise is insane and asinine.


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