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Bewitched, bothered and bewildered: Making sense of the political chaos

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Nov 15, 2021 7:59 pm Updated Nov 15, 2021 8:28 pm

A swashbuckling anthill makes more sense than the political spectacle to which we’ve been treated of late.

Duterte against Duterte. Father and daughter at each other’s political throats. There’s Bongbong vs. Bong. Supposed allies in a happy-go-lucky chase for the top prize.

Now the older Duterte shifts gears to vie for a senatorial seat. What do we make of this political pigsty?

Is this some Cambridge Analytica strategy to throw people off the trail of an International Criminal Court investigation? Some ancient alien conspiracy to keep humans preoccupied as lizard people take over the sandcastles of Dolomite Beach? Or is Mr. Bean moonlighting as this administration’s political consultant?

It’s a plot twist that renders our now dystopian horror flick even stranger than fiction. And why not? What better way to confound the public than to have chaos as a conversation piece?

That’s just for starters. We haven’t even dug deep into what has been happening behind closed doors. Curiosity in chatrooms abound. Who’s behind the machinations? Is there a spooky think tank—foreign or domestic—working in the rear? How much of taxpayers’ money are they burning?

Furthermore, what’s the endgame? What’s in it for whom? Who gets to bring home the trophy after all this rumpus and dissonance?

Chaos, by definition, is the lack of clarity. It can be natural or engineered. When chaos is stage-managed, there is good reason to believe that someone is hiding something. So, what is it that these people don’t want us to see?

Perception is a powerful tool in politics. Chaos hammers and shapes this perception into conviction. The darker the chaos, the easier for charlatans to disguise themselves as the harbingers of light.

But, for me, the real question is: is it even necessary for us to know?

What good would it do to grasp the truth at this point? The truth behind the political disarray? Would it turn the tide around? Would current perceptions change? Will making sense of the chaos contribute to the improvement of discourse both offline and online? Will such discourse even matter in the end?

Our choices are slim. Our chances of getting someone better than the lesser evil even slimmer. The narrower our choices become, the more likely will the greater evil win.

Thus, the presidential election of 2022 has sunk into a search for the needle in the haystack, for want of a better cliché. Make no mistake: this expedition for the “holy grail” is fraught with dangers for one overarching reason: our blindness is being stage-managed.

Worse, the more we add to the rumors, speculations, and hearsays that make up the nuts and bolts of political chaos, the more the broken, the needy, the hopeless, and the hungry will grab hold of the nearest thing to their hands: the lies.

Perception is a powerful tool in politics. Chaos hammers and shapes this perception into conviction. The darker the chaos, the easier for charlatans to disguise themselves as the harbingers of light.

How do we break this rip-roaring cycle of political mayhem?

If making sense of the madness escapes us, then doing the most sensible thing stands as our best option: let’s keep it simple.

If chaos is freedom without direction, duty is freedom with a purpose. We pride ourselves that we are responsible citizens, then let us all choose wisely. Maturely. Conscientiously. For ourselves, our friends and families, our country.

How do we go about being responsible? First, we must rethink the right to vote not as the right to choose a leader, but the right to choose a partner. The electoral process, in essence, forms a pact between the government and the governed where the two must work together to make things happen.

Democratic elections are built on the principle of trust, not merely competition. It’s not a game. Neither should it serve our liking for amusement. It’s a far cry from sports where the winner, after a grueling match, simply brings home the prize.

Think of it as a marriage. A marriage where each and every day is a work in progress. The sort of progress which benefits both, not only one or the other. So, who would you choose for a husband or a bride? Would you tie the knot with a liar, a goon, a known murderer?

Why not take a wild chance at someone new? Someone with no footprint of corruption, abuse, and impunity dogging his or her heels? Someone who may not be perfect, obviously, but, on the whole, far above the greater and lesser evil?

Keeping it simple means keeping your eye on the ball. And the ball is to choose a partner for the next six years. A partner you and I can work with, and who will work with and for our benefit. A partner who deems constituents as equals, if not betters, and capable of the most intricate and simplest things. Together.

Democratic elections require that the winner chooses duty over his rights, law over his whims, the electorate’s interests over his own. Thus, casting a single vote in favor of an underserving candidate is a terrible injustice. It is tyranny of the worst order.

Even in business, no one can stand a sloppy, clumsy-brain, incompetent CEO. Necessary to the success of commerce is someone with decision, precision, vision. Sometimes the work can be messy, yes, as most entrepreneurs know. But it’s the kind of chaos that gives birth to dancing stars, as Friedrich Nietzsche said.

Simple means choosing the good, not the bad; the right partner, not the wrong one. How complicated can that be?

This is the task at hand: to pick a public servant competent enough not to overstep the boundaries of duty. The best leaders are those who can skillfully work within these boundaries. The onus of the Constitution limits the flights and fancies of power within this frontier—no more, no less. Any breach jeopardizes the nation as a whole.

Democratic elections are built on the principle of trust, not merely competition. It’s not a game. Neither should it serve our liking for amusement. It’s a far cry from sports where the winner, after a grueling match, simply brings home the prize.

Democratic elections require that the winner chooses duty over his rights, law over his whims, the electorate’s interests over his own.

Thus, casting a single vote in favor of an underserving candidate is a terrible injustice. It is tyranny of the worst order. Remember, in a democracy, the highest office in the land is not the Office of the President.

It is the Office of the Electorate.