I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

There can be no gameplan

Over at Filipino Voices, J echoes an oft-repeated plea.

2010 is just two years away. We who love this country should get our acts together and formulate a doable course of action to oust the bad and to elect the good. And we must start doing so now.

I’ve said that myself more times than I care to remember. And try as I might, I can not remember a singe instance of ‘us getting our acts together,’ much less getting our acts together to ‘formulate a doable course of action to oust the bad and elect the good.’

I think the problem is one of scale. It is easy enough to imagine gathering a core of like-minded individuals and locking them in a room until they come up with a plan to influence the way voters vote. That certainly worked in college. Unfortunately, it rarely works in real life. In real life – where you’re dealing with more than 45 million voters – influencing how people make their choices gets a tad more complicated … and a lot less noble.

I know alot of people are chipping away at poor ole’ Maslow, but his heirarchy of needs still represents one of the most logical explanations for why people make the choices they make.

And that includes the voting Filipino masses.

The masses – and I do not use this term derogatorily – hardly ever respond to appeals such as J’s because there are other more pressing concerns. Very simply put, the poor commoditize their vote because they need to meet more primal needs.

And since there are so many of them, our politicians inevitably court their vote in the most effective way possible: by letting money talk. After all, to the poor man who ekes out a subsistence existence, the five hundred pesos in his hand makes a hell of a lot more sense than the idea of voting for a clean guy who promises a better life after a whole lot of suffering. Kinda like why the devil has more disciples than Jesus. Although, like in society, even the people who treat their fellow men as foully as any devil would are also the most vocal about their righteousness; even the people who sell their votes tend to swear up and down that they want true change and would never -ever- sell their votes.

So it’s like a vicious circle really. The poor have the voting power, and they demand commoditization of that power; the politicians – desirous of using the poor’s voting power – indulge them, and coddle the poor with short-sighted policies that, over the long term, swell the ranks of the poor who have the voting power … and so on.

So, if the poor are too pre-occupied with their needs to care about social reform, who’s gonna step up? Cvj has already expressed reservations about the credibility of the middle classes.

The ‘reformist’ credentials of the Philippine Middle Class is questionable because of its role in tolerating Hello Garci. The thing is, it shows its reformist side selectively and self-servingly.

I agree … in a sense. The vast majority of the middle class really don’t give a hoot beyond the occasional rally and the perpetual whining about how things are going to the dogs. When the rallies end, they end up in their watering holes enjoying the benefits of being middle class in the rotten system they decry, and bribe traffic cops to get out of traffic citations.

But that’s not the problem. The problem is, no matter how sincere the middle class gets, they can still be out voted by the poor. The middle class knows that, and it contributes a lot to the low turn-out of voters from that social stratum.

Which leaves the very rich who care only to maintain their privileged positions and so end up being in bed with even the worst politicians.

Which leaves J’s plea with no one to answer it.

And what about us – the minority of the middle class who feel like we would be willing to work up a sweat for social change? Where does that leave us?

Sad to say, I’m feeling more and more that we are left on the fringe. Shouting our lungs out, tearing at our hair, and pounding our chests; making all the right noises and starting all the right petitions but making no more impact on the problem than a pitbull would make on a 747.

But that doesn’t mean we give up. It just means that there can be no overarching gameplan that would show us the way to a true and lasting electoral victory. There are always going to be underdog winners like Grace Padaca and Ed Panlilio, but their successes will most likely remain personal triumphs, rather than tide-turners.


Filed under: 2010 watch, politics, , , , , , ,

17 Responses

  1. cvj says:

    We (and others like us) are the immune system of our society.

  2. UP n student says:

    Maybe the question is less of …what about us – … where does that leave us? to what do we then do?

    Partying on can work. Just party on.

    Join a cause — can’t do it alone, join a cause.

  3. Bencard says:

    rom, it’s interesting how you would question the credibility of the “middle class” for “tolerating” the so-called hello garci. i thought the middle class who demanded gma’s head was well represented there by the likes of cory aquino, drilon and more than half the senators, the lopezesand other media conglomerates, the makati business club, the u.p., ateneo, etc. academe and students, susan roces and the show-biz industry, the turncoat “hyatt 10”, the b&w “movement, etc., etc.

    how about the role of the “middle class” in electing erap estrada as president. any statistics there?

  4. Bencard says:

    c’mon, cvj. don’t anoint yourself. with “immune system” like you, who needs AIDS (lol).

  5. cvjugo says:

    Bencard, AIDS is precisely the failure of the immune system.

  6. UP n student says:

    There really is something to be said where “some head honcho” believes that it is job to maintain discipline and organization.

    There is section of the middle class that may be worth emulating for its organizational skills and persistence despite lethargy or apathy by large chunks of the population. This group has not only stayed organized — this group consistently magnifies its numeric count by proselytizing and getting other people to join.

    Instant self-gratification was never its mantra. I am guessing that already, the group is laying groundwork for when GMA leaves office (as well as making contingency-plans should GMA have intentions to stay past 2010).

    This group consists of bishops, priests (and even nuns) and lay leaders of the Catholic Church.

  7. BrianB says:

    Excuse me, ROM, but last election the middle class was wrong; the poor was right.

  8. BrianB says:

    I’m convinced what we need is a true conservative party, someone from Jesus is Lord or El Shaddai. I don’t subscribe to their beliefs but that is what this country needs. Millions of people lack proper representation. More than half the country is conservative, so where are the representatives?

  9. rom says:

    bencard: oh, i don’t think the middle class tolerated garci. but i agree that, as cvj says, the middle class tends to be selective.

    As for cory and her ilk representing the middle class – some of them might be middle class, but they’re a minority in that category. The greater number of middle class folks mostly just stayed home and watched the revolution-that-never-was get televised.

  10. rom says:

    BrianB:and who’s to say that the poor got it right? a populist like you (and nearly every politician in sight)? And I really doubt that you can segment Filipinos into ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’

  11. Bencard says:

    rom, o.k., selective. but what is wrong with being on the side of what they think is good for them? who is cvj to second-guess those who are?

  12. rom says:

    bencard: I see nothing wrong with being selective in your battles, uncle. After all, didn’t Rand say something about enlightened self-interest? cvj, i think, is coming from different perspective.

  13. BrianB says:


    all people’s of the world are “segmented” into liberals and conservatives, even primitive peoples.

  14. BrianB says:

    The poor voted for Fernando, “I” voted Rocco, the middle class voted for Gloria… the absolute worst of the three.

  15. BrianB says:

    “a populist like you (and nearly every politician in sight)? And I really doubt that you can segment Filipinos into ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’”

    Big irony here. You don’t think people are naturally divided politically into left and right (heck, that’s why it’s called left and right, right?) but you seem to believe there are only two points of view: the populist one (mine) and the elitist one (yours). You have a very good and workable dichotomy with left/right. Populist/ elitist, what the heck is that? We are 90 million, not a bunch of party goers in Makati.

  16. rom says:

    brianb: calling you a populist is (1) a statement of fact; (2) does not automatically make me an elitist; and (3) does not in any way mean that there is no such thing as a centrist p-o-v

  17. cvj says:

    rom, the thing with the ‘centrist p-o-v’ is that it is defined by the two extremes (whatever those two extremes are).

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