Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Showbiz Republique

Ave Dionisia

The die was cast, and the victors proclaimed. Half a year of courting the nation through glitter and dazzle end with the sacred ballot fed into the machine. In the hours and days after the precincts were closed and the votes tabulated, we learn who made it in the senate and contested government posts. 

The outcome was largely predictable, thanks to surveys done before the election. Those outside the magic circle accuse the activity as something that conditions the mind. It is, to a degree. But the results were essential to predict the final outcome. It was designed for losers to embrace defeat (or spend more on TV ads to increase exposure); to stimulate opinions (or trigger a Twitter and Facebook bullying spree); and suppress operators from twisting the results. (which I think will never happen so long as Brillantes threatens to pass his resignation note) 

Of the eleven candidates I picked for the upper house, only four won. One flew all the way to the top, proving once and for all that her father might have been the president all along. The mayor I chose for my city lost, and so was his pair. I didn't vote for any representative as she ran an uncontested race. 

Under different circumstances, the outcome will be difficult to accept. Liberal minds got a beating in the senate, while traditional politics reign supreme in many parts of the country. But because of a very trusted election authority, details that could have been trivialized were largely ignored. Rival parties went home with their spoils, and kingmakers were satisfied with the compromise (Erap returns to politics as Mayor of Manila; His son, JV Ejercito is now a senator; and Nancy Binay slammed her critics by placing fifth in the senate count). The recently held election has never been about platforms of governance or anti-corruption-slash-social progressive advocacy, it is a battle of the stars and the cult of personality had won.

This is how I see our Universal Suffrage, and how it is practiced the way Pinoys do. Elections are about affluent families contesting control and authority over towns and provinces; has-been TV and Sports personalities rubbing their fading clout to jump into politics; throngs of masses queuing to vote for candidates (the highest bidder) who paid them.

Elections these days masquerade as one big fiesta: where election volunteers, supporters and their families are fed and clothed (with the candidates' face emblazoned on the shirt); the candidates themselves singing and dancing to woo spectators; and news outfits sensationalizing events to make it pass as breaking news.

Dysfunctional, you may say. The truth is, there is no perfect democracy. Even those gifted with intelligence revert to their savage instincts when the outcome turns against their favor. What more for the plebeians who are prone to fits of passion?

But this is the essence of free expression; to exercise the right to choose leaders the way we see fit. The reason I embraced the outcome despite the inclusion of candidates I didn't vote is because the final tally reflects the choice of society. There was no monopoly of the intellectuals and liberals there; the masses were well-represented.

We are still yet to learn if the leaders we chose do their job as expected. If Nancy Binay finally speaks in the podium and Grace Poe shines the way her parents did (in showbiz). Whatever the outcome, there is certain guarantee that the government listens.

Public opinion feeds their ratings.

Like the network wars that go on with every season, Malacanang cannot afford to receive low ratings. Especially when trust in government has always been high. There is always someone paying attention to what we speak; what we try to voice out in the streets and on the web. 

This is it folks. We have just become a Showbiz Republic.

1 comment:

red the mod said...

Bread and circuses, as always. Just like the Romans.

Did you know that the Greeks, Athenians in particular; the originators of democracy, approximated that it is only effective for a population of about 25,000 voters. Educated and politically astute as a requirement. Any number beyond which, the sheer volume of free voices/ free expression becomes a deterrent for properly assessing the sentiment of the populace.

Vox populi, now vox popular. Ugh.