Democracy-A A +A
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
DIRECT democracy, where all citizens together as equals determine a state’s systems, laws and actions, is an ideal. In practice, it can only be approximated by a representative sub-form where citizens elect their officials and/or representatives who formulate public policy in their behalf.
Ours is one such representative sub-form. Yet, all this time it has proven to be more of an oligarchy (rule by a powerful few) than a democracy mainly because its electoral system does not guarantee proportionate representation of the largest sector of society, namely farmers and workers. Instead it effectively allows only rich and powerful individuals to represent all sectors of society.
Only a rich and powerful few decide the fate of a voiceless and poor majority because they alone have the financial capacity to win elections that are conducted as freely and honestly as the manner armed robbers raid a bank. Campaigning, voting, counting and review systems are so loose only those who have money but lack the conscience not to cheat (let’s just cut the crap) get elected.
Election year is fast approaching and already traditional politician-oligarchs are preparing their line-up of official candidates. These are selected essentially on two basic criteria: money and influence. But it really is just money because the influence referred to here is the kind that money buys through patronage (dole-out) politics.
Furthermore, oligarchs break up into factions for the pure political expediency of winning, with no regard for personal integrity. In a recent defining amoral moment, former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada tells Sen. Koko Pimentel to forget self-respect and team up with former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, an alleged Gloria Arroyo cheating accomplice, under UNA (United Nationalist Alliance).
Factions pay no attention to platforms either. Already, some politicians are aligning with the Marcoses for no apparent reason than the latter’s money and influence, conveniently forgetting the crimes committed against the people in the acquisition of that money.
Election is a game politicians play to win at any cost, moral or financial. They consider their heavy election spending a worthwhile investment because of its high returns in pork barrel and intelligence funds and in commissions on projects. Since it is “their” money that gets them elected, they naturally feel free to govern for their interests without any regard for people’s priorities.
Our electoral process has to be substantially reformed or we remain a dysfunctional state. This, however, begs the question: why would oligarchs want to tighten a loose electoral set up that favors them? Answer: people just might have to demand for its overhaul because clearly it is mocking our democracy.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 20, 2012.