smoke

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

They are our elected representatives

… not our deputies. They should act on our behalf – as representatives do – and not presume to substitute their judgment for ours, as deputies are wont to (check out the plurked conversation on this).

of course, the question is how to make that happen?

Well, the Constitution does guarantee the right of free association, so we should take advantage of that and form associations of ordinary people not just to petition the government for ‘redress of grievance’ but also to give us a voice loud enough that our elected representatives will pay attention to us, and be reminded that we did not elect them to be kings of us.

The only thing is that, these associations should resist the urge to merge with the established groups which have either become so entrenched that they’re almost a part of government or have nothing on their minds except ouster. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve nothing against people who continue to work for the unseating of the president, it’s just that I don’t see them as the only way to get things done. I would much rather see small groups forming around specific causes, doing the spadework for good policy, then feeding that to our elected representative so he can draw out the policy from government.

Can this be done? Sure it can, but it won’t be easy. As pointed out by someone waaay smarter than me, our elected officials see vested interests as their real constituencies.

the constituencies are: the hierarchy, the business clubs and taipans, the leading local families, the ethnic associations, the embassies and the gambling and drug entrepreneurs. they have refined the mobilizing of constituencies to a fine art, unbeatable every time. while rest agonize on whether to go the party, movement, ngo, or what have you lets build it and raise consciousness way.

And these groups form the ‘constituencies’ because they deliver both money and votes. True enough. But just because they deliver, doesn’t mean no one else can. A well organized campaign in support of a cause can deliver both money (which is why campaign finance reform is so damned important) and votes even though the individuals within the campaign have neither. Of course, it is prolly inevitable that certain vested interests – like big corporations – will slip their fingers into the advocacy, but as long as the net result will be for the public interest, i can live with that.

What is intolerable is to continue along the trajectories that we are currently on: either believing that we are victims and therefore powerless to change things; or believing that the solution is to run for elected office ourselves, perhaps under the PL system.

My issue with the first is obvious; my issue with the second is equally obvious – power corrupts. No matter how noble your motives, when you seek – and get – elected office, power changes you and not for the good. So the only power I am comfortable holding as an ordinary citizen is the power to vote people out of office.

The procedure is straightforward. Step 1: elect a good man; Step 2: get together with like-minded individuals to do the spade work for new policies that will address the felt needs of your community (however big that community be); Step 3: give the work to the elected representative and tell him to make it happen; Step 4: if he does, do it again for other causes; Step 5: if he doesn’t punish him by voting him out of office.

That’s what being an elected representative truly means. All we need is to get up off our lazy asses and retake the power we’ve given to these elected doofuses. We’ve dropped the leash. Time to pick it back up.

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Filed under: politics, , , ,

10 Responses

  1. Lana says:

    undoubtedly, you have tremendous faith in a person’s right to vote and the power it wields to change the kind of dirty, apathy-inducing politics we’ve witnessed. but don’t you suppose the years of this brand of politics have bred a sense of “trained helplessness” borne not out of a baseless victim-mentality but as a result of being actual victims? and that perhaps, these “victims” do need to have people — the refreshingly idealistic, passionately patriotic kind — to be in politics (PL or otherwise) and have them display integrity and nationalism in order to overcome either their apathy or extreme distrust? the rather simple procedure outlined seemed rather lukewarm given the underlying idealism of your posts.

  2. rom says:

    lana: welcome to the smoking room.

    ok. let’s say you have someone “refreshingly idealistic” and “passionately patriotic” in elective office. What does he do once he gets there?

    Do you trust him 100% because you think he’s idealistic and patriotic? and then leave all the work to him because you trust him? In the meantime, what do you? Do we Wait for the guava to fall into our open mouths?

    Or, do you – as I suggest – help him by getting people to work on a policy proposal that he can push in his official capacity – either as a member of the executive (say, a mayor), or as a member of the legislature (either as a councilor, or even a senator)?

    so tell me, which sounds more lukewarm to you?

    re: trained helplessness and real victims

    if you acknowledge that your sense of helplessness is the result of conditioning, then it would be criminal for you to continue to accept that sense of helplessness. If you know what the problem is, it becomes your duty to try to solve it.

    actual victims? oh, you mean like the jews were actual victims and so they should have just wallowed in self-pity and moral castration? or maybe you mean like the early christians who were fed to the lions for their beliefs … should they have succumbed to their actual victimization and just scurried back into their caves? Or maybe you’re referring to the filipinos who were stepped on and abused and murdered and raped by colonial overlords. Maybe they should have just reveled in their helplessness too?

    The point being, lana, that regardless of where the sense of helplessness comes from, it should not be tolerated. People are NOT helpless.

    re:apathy-inducing politics

    People should not only consider themselves NOT helpless, they should also quit talking about dirty politics as tho’ they had no part in making it taht way. People should take responsibility.

    Oh and Lana, you’re welcome here 24/7, but I would thank you not to patronize me again. 😀

  3. i was going to leave a comment, but i’m sneaking out to cower in a corner somewhere 😀

  4. Lana says:

    patronize you? i wasn’t aware i sounded patronizing… you must have misread me. although i do hope i misread the condescending note in your post. 🙂

    i didn’t, not even for a second, imply that people should wait for “the guava to fall into our open mouths.” first, i hardly think that people would eagerly open their mouths; they’d be too wary to even approach someone who comes offering them guavas. second, the idea of trying to help someone shape policies and reforms (i.e. behave like technocrats) assume that you would have an elected official that would (a) likely welcome it since he/she belongs to the new brand of politicians; or (b) at least someone susceptible of being “shamed” or “prodded” into being one of the good guys. Barring that, i don’t suppose veterans of old politics are susceptible to being “shamed” or “prodded.” That being the case, hoping that people would be “technocrats” and not aspire to be the “new politicians” seemed lukewarm to me.

    re: trained helplessness…
    oh c’mon, people just don’t “snap out of it! and in this case, it wasn’t entirely all a product of conditioning… people have tried to fight for the very ideals you’re propounding and they’ve met defeat after defeat until people thought it just wasn’t worth all the effort. so, forgive them if they give up the fight, that is, until the very system they’ve been working in is changed.

    if my memory served me right, the christians did scurry back into the caves, which is why they were called christian martyrs. it took “champions” — an unlikely one in their case (Constantine) — to make life better for them. so too with the jews, who had other nations to back up their cause. maybe they accomplished that partly because they had money and power but, at the end of the day, these people needed “champions” and so do we!

    you talk of duty and responsibility as if they are magic words that will wake people up from their stupor… but sadly, they don’t.

  5. rom says:

    lana: just because you dint think you were doing it, doesn’t mean you weren’t. and yes, i do tend to condescend to people who shoot from the hip.

    re: people as technocrats:

    and why shouldn’t an elected official welcome it if it comes from someone who’s vote put him in office? the trouble with most people is that they accept the overbearing-hari-harian behavior of their elected officials. that’s bullshit.

    but because pragmatically speaking, individuals prolly won’t even be able to get their congressman to tell them the time of day much less listen to their ideas, we need to form associations and groups that will have enough clout to force elected officials to pay attention.

    and if they really don’t want to listen, use the media to drum up support for your cause. at the end of the day, politicians are about survival. nothing else. If enough pressure is brought to bear that his re-election (or the election of his chosen successor) is placed in jeopardy, then any politician will listen. And once he listens, it’s your responsibility to blow him away with the brilliance of your idea.

    and guess what? this fixation of yours on people becoming new politicians is really misplaced. Even if the perfect person gets elected into office – say the House of Reps – he’s just one of many. ANd since he’s so ‘refreshingly idealistic,’ he’s likely to be a junior legislator – low man on the totem pole. What good can he do? Seriously

    re:helplessless

    revisit the definition of conditioning, lana. what you just described is exactly that. but leaving that aside, what would you have me do? Accept that it is acceptable for people to not lift a finger to help themselves until the system has been changed?

    That’s stupid. you don’t even WANT to change the system. You just want to change the players without repairing the broken system that corrupts even the most saintly neophytes.

    So when are people supposed to start helping themselves?

    Last thing:

    Your memory is failing you. The Christians were called martyrs precisely because they kept getting caught proselytizing. Once caught, they were killed – martyred. They lived in caves, alright, but they didn’t hide in them to wallow in their victimization.

    And the Jews had nations to back them up??? Lana, the Vatican had to friggin APOLOGIZE for not speaking up about the holocaust. What sort of backing up was that? The whole world watched idly while Hitler put jews into ghettoes and later on loaded them into cattle trucks to disappear in to the heart of europe. Not a peep from England or the US; no serious attempt to stop Hitler. And you say they were backed up by nations?

    They had money and power??? OMFG, are you serious! The jews did have money, but they never had power. Then when the Nazis took over germany, they lost their money too. And their hair, and their gold teeth, and their lives.

    Jewish prisoners were shaved bald. Their hair was woven into socks for submariners, or wrapped around the screw-on heads of torpedoes to water-proof them.

    Their gold teeth were melted down and the gold collected into ingots for the Nazi high command. Their dentures were recycled and given to Germans needing dentures.

    Their lives were forfeit because of who they were. There were crematoriums where dead jews were stacked one on top of the other so that the melting fat would trickle down and fan the flames even higher, increasing the efficiency of the cremation.

    And throughout all of that, while pillars of smoke rose lazily into the sky, and the stench of burning human bodies filled the european plains, the jews had no one fighting for them.

    but despite all that, they bounce back and forge a homeland. they didn’t need champions. all they ever craved for was recognition. And without champions, they got that.

    Lana, duty and responsibility are magic words, when they are heard by the right people. and the people who are awoken by these words then have the duty and responsibility to wake others up.

    And if you weren’t roused by them, well then that’s okay. I’m pretty sure others have heard.

  6. BrianB says:

    The great equalizer is fear of death. Think about it.

  7. Lana says:

    actually, if i didn’t think it, i wasn’t doing it. believe me, i would’ve made it abundantly clear if i meant to be patronizing. then again, if your default mode is to come out long claws unsheathed, it might be terribly difficult to recognize a thoughtful question when you see one. Anyway…

    Re: People as Technocrats
    Did I say elected officials “shouldn’t” welcome inputs from his electorate? No, I didn’t. It would help the discussion if you actually took the time to take what was said in the right spirit. I merely contextualized your suggestion to the reality that most old politicians are not susceptible to being “prodded” by their constituents or “shamed” using the media. Given that, I thought it would help the cause to have “insiders” — the new breed of politicians — to ensure that these people get the break they need. So it was sort of puzzling for me why you don’t support “refreshingly idealistic” people getting themselves elected (PL or otherwise) when they stand a better chance in pushing the right agenda.

    If it’s because “power corrupts”, then there is no difference between being elected to office and acting like a technocrat. A technocrat with an agenda (even a benign one) and who has a politician’s ear also comes into power — the unaccountable kind. Now, if it’s because you think a few elected officials won’t be enough, i think that contradicts your earlier rhetoric about talking to one mayor (executive) or one councilor (legislative). It’s not so much a numbers game as it is about having people that one can believe in… that people can trust… so they can be shaken out of their apathy because things are beginning to look up. So, assuming that people do believe that anyone who enters politics will have a downward spiral to corruption, won’t they begin to believe otherwise once they’ve seen people who can actually withstand the temptation?

    Re: Associations
    Sure, people can form associations. The Constitution certainly guarantees that and free media too. But really, has anyone even counted the number of associations and people’s organizations that are out there? It’s nauseating! It’s difficult enough to differentiate one’s organization, much less get heard above the noise and clutter. Thus, the simple equation of people’s organization + media = threat to a politician doesn’t hold water, especially since it ignores just how entrenched old politicians are and how impervious they’ve become. Now, if these associations target the new breed of politicians or help these “refreshingly idealistic” people into breaking political ground, then they may actually get somewhere.

    Re: Helplessness
    No, I don’t expect you to do nothing. In fact, in my original post, I had expected you to do MORE. And what’s really stupid is misconstruing someone for the sake of having something to blab about. I do want to change the system; I just think an “inside job” would be a better way to go about it.

    Re: My Memory
    I will not engage the diatribe so as not to muddle the issue. I do commend the flair for drama. Suffice it to say that, the Christians were saved from persecution after they found their “champion” in Constantine. The Jews got their land after they found their “champion” in the UK (yes, they needed a champion) through the Balfour Treaty. And they got support since they had the money and, indirectly, power. Coming back to the real point, If they needed champions to help them, so do we.

    On a final note, brandishing the words “duty” and “responsibility” — by itself — is not magical. Without a way — a viable way — by which people can exercise their duty and responsibility, drowning their ears with the words just become a source of frustration.

    I thought it was my duty and responsibility to point out what I thought you missed in your original post. But apparently, the “hari-harian” attitude of the people you lambast have rubbed off on you. Careful that your delight in trying to “lord it over” — albeit unsuccessfully — does not show lest you might end up being the untermensch you wrote about.

  8. BrianB says:

    Time for some reverse psychology:

    Nothing sexier than an intellectual catfight. Keep it up.

  9. rom says:

    Lana: discussing this matter with you is getting tedious. nevertheless, since you insist on ignoring the forest in your fascination for the trees …

    If I were to relentlessly split hairs as badly as you do, I would ask, “did I ever say that you said they shouldn’t?” The question I asked challenged your notion that the reluctance of politicians to listen to others is something that needs to be accepted as reality, which renders the whole idea, as you called it, lukewarm.

    While I accept the reality, I reject its perpetuation by these politicians by demonstrating that they have no good reason NOT to listen; that they, in fact, SHOULD listen. I hope that’s clear enough.

    Take the exchange as an organic whole, lana, ‘stead of getting hung up here and there.

    Insiders – if you’ve found a person good enough for you to support as a politician, well then good for you. I’ve nothing against a ‘refreshingly idealistic’ people wanting to run for office. But with or without these people, change can be had if ordinary citizens took a more active and more intelligent approach to the whole republican system we have.

    Instead of leaving it to these refreshingly idealistic people of yours, we should be on the frontline of telling legislators what we deem important, what we want to achieve, and how we think it can be done.

    Again, Lana. Just to make sure you get it and are no longer puzzled: I have nothing against people running for office. But even if they are good people, we should not leave them alone. We should be vocal about what we define to be our best interests, and we should be demanding about getting them to act in behalf of those interests.

    What I am against is the formation of more association for the purpose of seeking political power. There is no problem with having more associations and organizations than you can count – most of them exist only on paper anyway – as long as they work on advocacies. Once they start seeking election, their priorities change, and inevitably, the advocacy will take a back seat to the pursuit of power.

    Accountability – it is true that interest groups or associations do not have the kind of accountability you are prolly referring to. However, there is a kind of internal accountability that is possible – the associations accountability to its own members. Remember how GK was shaken up recently? That’s internal accountability at work.

    Which is why it has to be broad based and composed of ordinary people who desire change without aspiring to political power, rather than the kind of special interest groups we have right now which say they desire change but see political power for themselves as the best path to it.
    You see, when political power comes into the equation, it becomes easy to cut corners and cover things up, all in the interest of maintaining power – and of course with the noble goal of using that power for the greater good. HAH! Power corrupts.

    Do more – you want me to do more? Or you want me to do more of what you want me to do? Just because I am setting out on a different path does not mean I do not do enough.

    And we were talking about the feeling of helplessness you say people cannot snap out of. Incidentally, my question “What would you have me do?” (to which you brilliantly responded with a double negative and the bare assertion that you wanted me to do MORE), was challenging this nugget of wisdom:

    so, forgive them if they give up the fight, that is, until the very system they’ve been working in is changed.

    I simply broke down for you what “forgiving them” actually entailed: “Accept that it is acceptable for people to not lift a finger to help themselves until the system has been changed? ”

    You were doing the misconstruction, Lana. Not me. And if misconstruing someone is stupid, well then …

    You say you want to change the system? How? By promoting the candidacies of refreshingly idealistic people? I said it before, what’s that going to do? By advocating such a solution – which people have been trying since long before you or I were born – which has consistently not wrought any appreciable change, I am comfortable challenging your assertion that you want change.

    Constantine – LOL! This fetish for heroes and messianic figureheads so explains your insistence that what we need is a refreshingly idealistic pol.

    Think about it, Lana. This insistence that champions are necessary only means that you see the solution to your problems not as being in YOURSELF, but as being in SOMEONE ELSE.

    Which means that if you fell, you’re prolly gonna blame someone for your falling, and you’re prolly gonna want someone to come and pick you up. That is the victim mentality I was deriding.

    Under other circumstances, I would also call that the self-entitlement mentality – the idea that the universe, the state, the community, the family, even the boyfriend owes YOU an easy and entertaining ride through life. That is so bullshit.

    Historical notes: Constantine? Savior of Christianity? Wrong. The donation of Constantine was a forgery. He merely tolerated Christians because they worshipped – like him – a singualr deity. For him, the Sun and Christ were interchangeable entities.

    It was the perseverance of Christians – their refusal to give in to helplessness – that allowed them to survive persecution until a new – more tolerant – emperor came to power.

    The Balfour Declaration? The Jews didn’t like it because it didn’t turn palestine into israel, which was what the jews wanted. And incidentally, it wasn’t some heroic feat. Jews lobbied for it relentlessly. In other words, the Jews did not rely on the refreshingly idealistic Balfour – or the refreshingly idealistic Zionist tendency of Churchill – they WORKED for it. “Course, like I said it was a disappointment, but that’s beside the point.

    Duty and Responsibility – I proposed a solution by which we can activate the people’s sense of duty and responsibility. Contrast this with your insistence that ‘people cannot just snap out of their helplessness’ and that we need ‘refreshingly idealistic people’ to run for office. I think I have laid out a more concrete plan of action than your ‘let’s wait for a hero’ approach ( i so know you are going to take issue with that! HAHAHA). Waiting is more frustrating than actually doing something.

    Was it your duty and responsibility to point out what you thought I missed in my original post? Hell NO. This is a blog, woman. It’s the repository of my opinions, and no self-appointed monitor of correctness or soundness of reasoning need edit me.

    Is it your duty and responsibility then to educate me as well? To make sure that my opinions are acceptable to you? Bwahaha! If my opinions are not up to your standards, Lana, you are welcome not to subscribe to them.

  10. Lana says:

    you’re right, this is getting tedious. *smiles*

    i agree… politicians ought to listen to their electorate… people should take a more active and more intelligent approach to republicanism… people’s organizations can be the grassroots approach to making sure the “refreshingly idealistic” and perhaps even the “old polticians” can start to listen. i agree.

    oh and… i was being facetious when i talked about my “duty” and “responsibility.” i don’t mean to claim an intellectual highground or superiority that would entitle me to monitor your correctness or seek to educate you.

    there… catfight over.

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