If the recent polls are an indication, you would think that the presidency has been clinched. Let’s just say that for discussion’s sake – yes, it is clinched – is it reason enough to stop campaigning? Common wisdom says yes. But uncommon wisdom says, no – it ain’t over until the crooner sings.
Destiny is what we make it. If we choose mediocre candidates – there is a bigger probability that we become destined with a mediocre administration. If we choose the best candidates, based on a balanced scorecard – there is a bigger probability that we become destined with an excellent administration.
Tadhana mo bang maging mahirap o tadhana mo bang magkaroon ng sapat na pangkabuhayan? Ang ating tadhana ay nakasalalay sa ating gawain. Kung ang ating itinanim ay hangin, tayo ay aani ng bagyoKung gusto nating gumanda ang ating tadhana, tayo ay gumawa ng tama, pumili ng mabuti – wag pumili ng tamad at puro palusot kahit pa bayani at sikat ang kanyang mga magulang.
The Old-School Reactive “National Debate”
Time and again, it has been pointed out that the Philippine “debate” consists of:
1. A volley of one-liners devoid of substance.
2. A compilation of motherhood statements presented as a “platform”.
3. Discussion of issues based on ad hominems and red herrings.
4. An emotional appeal to “faded glory” instead of a look to the future.
The “debate” between the candidates and supporters of the frontrunners are no different from the reactions and comments of the die-hard Pinoy fans surging the gates of a… comedian’s Facebook page due to a perceived slur. At least, Manny had the good sense to remind the fans to understand the comedian. Not the same for a politician – who is as whiney as his support base.
A dysfunctional national Presidential “debate”
The old school Pinoy political debate and campaign can be likened to a mainframe. You have the center stage where the political celebrities gather and the politicans have their “debate” which is reduced to “sound bites”. There is a tendency for the debate to be reduced to sound bites because the time has to be allotted equally to all the candidates, though one can still get a glimpse of who’s talking bullcrap and full of it.
The medium and channel for delivering the message is therefore inefficient and prone to misinterpretation, distortion, and leaves lot of room for equivocation.
That often happens because the politicians and their handlers dictate and control the agenda. The politicians’ campaign teams determine the venue, set the pace, provide the talking points, and bus the hakot crowds. Then there’s the grandstanding by politicians and their respective campaign teams – which further gets muddled as each TV network comes up with its own debate.
I have yet to watch a simulcast broadcast of the debates on all channels. At least three sessions of two to three hours of primetime should be allocated to a Presidential debate on three topics – the economy, governance, and charter change. But no, each network just has to come up with its own little “debate” – each politician therefore has to conduct triage to accommodate all the requests for attendance in debates. Can you just imagine all the mom-and-pop debates that have mushroomed all over the country for lack of an honest-to-goodness national debate. Why can’t ALL organizations work together to make it happen in cooperation with the COMELEC? Let’s get our sh*t together Philippines.
This leads to issues not being discussed thoroughly and it then becomes the responsbility of the citizenry to pick up the ball and run away with it. In other words, the citizenry needs to take ownership of the debate and shape it. The alternative is “business as usual” – same old crap, different day; new faces, new names; NEW FIRST NAMES, SAME LAST NAMES, SAME OLD SCRIPTS.
Shaping “Tadhana” – Taking Ownership of “Destiny”
Do you remember the first time you rode a bike on your own? As in, our parents removed the training wheels, let the bike loose, and we were responsible for making the bike move forward – we were on your own. At that very moment, ownership of the experience was passed on to us. It befell upon us to ride the bike properly so that we kept on moving and that we wouldn’t fall down or get lost – we jumped into it and took ownership of the experience.
In like manner, if we, Pinoys are to proactively shape the national debate, we need to step up, jump in, and take ownership of the national debate in a manner that generates the most positive results and social benefits.
We need to retake the agenda from the political handlers and spinmeisters – and take it to the basic units of society – family and community. It is easy for political predators to influence the opinion-leaders in a family or community when they are isolated at work or watching TV or listening to the radio. Retaking the discussion from the public sphere and into the living rooms and kitchen tables and assessing whether the choice of a politician augurs well for the survival and thriving of a family unit on the short term, medium term, and long-term. Voices from all generations need to be heard – not just the seniors, but the children as well.
By engaging in social events which are centered around the smaller-modular chunks – the family, we can:
- Reduce the noise of mobs.
- Filter out irrelevant chatter and noise.
- Provide more clarity and focus to the issues.
- Have a more cordial discussion within the family. It minimizes the risk of strangers plunging knives or shooting other strangers who disagree with their political vies.
- Generates a strong consensus that considers a more holistic family-centric view.
- Provide a relaxed venue for discussing the issues.
By changing the arena of the discussion OUT OF the boob tube, and INTO OUR personal space, we:
- Redefine the parameters of the debate TO OUR PERSONAL STANDARDS.
- Evaluate whether each candidate’s views resonate with OUR PERSONAL VIEWS and ASPIRATIONS.
- Corollary to that, come to a consensus whether each candidate’s views resonate with a family member’s VIEWS and ASPIRATIONS.
- Each family member can be asked to substantiate each position and be the “champion” for each candidate. Note: Everyone has to agree that the meeting is not about “conversion” but about understanding the issues in greater depth. Conversion is a personal decision based on a conclusion after a rational and comprehensive discussion of the issues at hand. The Road to Damascus is not imposed from outside – but from within.
See, how that changes the discussion? The stakes for the family become more personal – that’s taking ownership of the debate.
Does the Pinoy have it in him to stop and take stock?
Do not settle for one-liners and sound bites
When someone delivers a one-liner, have the person elaborate and explain the one-liner. It is important to do this in a non-offending manner. By making the person delivering the one-liner explain his stance, we are actually making said person rethink his stance. The person delivering the one-liner will realize soon enough how silly he/she sounds with unsubstantiated arguments for his/her candidate.
Sample Political House Party
The logistics of organizing a rally, a concert, a dinner/dance are more than enough to turn people off. However, a house party is more doable, more manageable, can be deployed in shorter notice, and is within your means. Refrain from soliciting from the candidate – that’s how corruption starts. Do not be a party to corrupting your candidate – instead, be party to protecting your from corruption. Be your own campaign HQ, be your own campaign manager, take ownership of the political debate.
Here’s a sample format from ehow.com
Instructions: Hosting a political house party is a great way to get involved with a campaign.
Things You’ll Need:
* Campaign posters, buttons and literature
* DVD player
* PC connected to the Internet
Choose a date for your house party. Many house parties are held during televised debates. Alternatively, you can contact your local campaign headquarters and arrange for a conference call from your candidate or campaign manager. This will provide a focus for your party. Don’t forget to ask for campaign materials like posters, bumper stickers and buttons.
Once you have decided on a date and secured materials for your party, begin publicizing your party. For a smaller party, invite friends and family that share your political views, and ask them to bring a friend. For a larger party, contact campaign headquarters and ask to have your party and contact information featured on the campaign calendar and website.
On the day of your party, place yard signs in your yard so newcomers will be able to find you. If you are having your party on the night of a debate, have your TV tuned to the debate. If there is no debate, have a DVD of your candidates speeches playing when guests arrive.
Give each guest a button or bumper sticker on upon arrival.
Once most of your guests have arrived, give a small speech about the candidate and explaining why you think the candidate is deserving of their vote. Invite anyone that has not registered to vote to the voter registration table.
After the debate or conference call, if those are your focal point, invite guests to ask questions and discuss the event.
Tips & Warnings
- Don’t forget to get names and addresses for all guests. Turn these names over to campaign headquarters for follow-up.
- Return voter registration forms to the appropriate office.
- Take pictures during your house party for inclusion on the candidate’s website.
Imagine this, political house parties taking place in parallel nationwide – in geek jargon – the network is the computer, the sum of the output of the individual house parties is greater than that of a humongous rally. Political house parties are to PCs what rallies are to mainframes.
The time to reshape the political debate is now – reshape your reality by reshaping your thoughts – don’t let the spinmeisters control the mob-driven agenda, jump on the debate and claim ownership of your reality.