This week will see the filing of certificates of candidacy for national positions. We expect to see gimmickry, drama, hoopla. We hope there will be as much substance.
The bigger political parties and more established organizations will definitely milk their advantage to the fullest. These are the ones who have the funds and the machinery to drive home their message from the top media outlets in the big cities to the households in the most remote places.
The rest will have to contend with non-traditional modes of campaigning, hoping that new media such as Internet technology will convey what they have to tell voters, and as convincingly.
What their message is, we hope, won’t be the tired, trite, rehearsed lines that we have ease remembering but difficulty seeing in action.
For example, those running under the administration party vow to continue the journey on Daang Matuwid. Alas, the much-vaunted straight path might as well have been mythical in the past five years. We have seen how the self-righteous administration has gone after its enemies with a passion and its erring allies with disinterest. Every failure was attributed to causes outside its officials’ control. Until now, critics are dismissed as enemies of reform who are out to sabotage the gains made by the President.
Other candidates want to do other things. One wants to continue the fight begun by her father, without articulating what that fight was all about and whether it was even begun. Another wants to replicate the prosperity he claims to have done to the city he and his family ruled for decades, without saying anything about how he could ensure transparency and accountability on the way to progress.
Yet another shows himself reluctant as he calculates his decision to bring his brand of leadership, known to those in the South, to the national scene.
The circus that will arrive this week will once again try our patience and test our mettle. We always complain of the sorry state of our politics. Patronage, dynasties, appeals to emotion and personality play rule the game. Left out are intelligent discourse, sober logic and practical ideas for governance.
We deplore, in strong terms, the use of scantily-clad women dancing provocatively during a political gathering. Such, ugh, performances are common among sorties in the provinces. Entertainers are meant to draw crowds to political gatherings. What if nobody comes to the gatherings precisely because of the sorry level of discourse? What if people come only if there is debate, none of the condescending, noontime-show quality entertainment that they have fed us with all these years?
We always talk about asserting before our leaders what we want from them. Perhaps that has not worked because when we do so, they are already in power. Let us make them commit to be issues-based while they are still courting our votes. The coming week need not be a circus; it could be the start of a tough series of tests, instead.