Selecting a leader is a hard task. In a field of equally capable peers, selecting the candidate best fit for the job is hard. In a field of equally incompetent peers, selecting the most competent will also be hard.
But supposedly in a field of unequal capabilities, the best person for the job should be easy to spot, right? Well, in a perfect world, that’s supposed to be a no-brainer. But, hey, it’s the Philippines we are talking about here, you gotta hold on to your horses. And speaking of horses, a word comes to mind – to “vet”. A quick look up of the origin of the word reveals that:
To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning “to check.”
It is a figurative contraction of veterinarian which originated in the mid-17th century. The colloquial abbreviation dates to the 1860s; the verb form of the word, meaning “to treat an animal,” came a few decades later—according to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest known usage is 1891—and was applied primarily in a horse-racing context. (“He vetted the stallion before the race,” “You should vet that horse before he races,” etc.) By the early 1900s, vet had begun to be used as a synonym for evaluate, especially in the context of searching for flaws.
Merriam-Webster also defines vetting as
1-a: to provide veterinary care for (an animal) or medical care for (a person)
1-b: to subject (a person or animal) to a physical examination or checkup
2-a: to subject to usually expert appraisal or correction <vet a manuscript>
2-b. to evaluate for possible approval or acceptance <vet the candidates for a position>
Vetting, therefore, is a process of examination and evaluation, generally referring to performing a background check on someone before offering him or her employment. In addition, in intelligence gathering, assets are vetted to determine their usefulness.
Supposedly, leaders are thoroughly vetted. For example, in the United States, when the party’s presidential nominee chooses a vice-presidential candidate to accompany him or her on the ticket. Prospective vice-presidential candidates undergo detailed evaluation by a team of advisers acting on behalf of the nominee. In later stages of the vetting process, the team will examine a wider range of items such as finances, personal conduct, and previous coverage in the media.
In the Philippines, we can say that there is a vetting process (and that’s really stretching it). However, whether such process is thorough, begs to be asked.
Are we being thorough in selecting the people who will lead the Philippines.
Are we being thorough when we ask a parasitic landlord class to lead the very people whose blood it has been sucking?
Are we being thorough when we vote for a liar who hails from the Ivy League?
Are we being thorough when we vote for a womanizing boozing dropout of a thug ?
Are we being thorough when we vote for the same old names, same old faces, same modus operandi – and expect different results?
After all, as pointed out by Paul White, while Richardson was being vetted to be the commerce secretary “It is up to the vetters to get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth out of appointees.”
We, the Voters, have an obligation to thoroughly vet every candidate that comes before our way. Many, if not all, of these candidates will make decisions that will impact our lives and of our people, every day.
The purpose of the vetting process is neither to embarrass or put a candidate down, nor to further politicize the process. Rather, the purpose of the vetting process is to ensure that candidates may be trusted with the responsibilities that come with serving an elective position.
By ensuring that these candidates are doing what they say they did, something which they should be doing anyway, we are ensuring the candidates are, at a minimum, complying with the rules that more often than not they will help create and implement.
Thus, when we ask for a platform, we ask not for the sake of asking.
We ask because we want to know, we want to verify, we want to validate, we want to confirm – that the candidate is the person who he/she claims herself to be.
We want to see what are the principles that will guide a candidate’s decisions in the pressing issues of the day.
Political capital – name recall, winnability, popularity, machinery – is not enough.
In this high stakes elections, heart is not enough, beauty is not enough, and brains is not enough.
A balanced and thorough evaluation is needed, lest we gamble our present and future as we have done in the past.
And speaking of gambling, do you want to bet your future on an unvetted candidate?