THE whole election process, starting from the just recent commencement of filing of candidacy until the last ballot is dropped and counted, is a mind game. And if voters like you and me, are not wise enough or fail to utilize the intellect given to us, we will just be used as pawns in this political game.
A mind game is a strategic game. Oftentimes, politicians hire political strategists or advisers to lure voters. The goal is to win, and like a chess game, candidates and their parties carefully and methodically plan to achieve this goal.
Strategists and advisers would advise candidates how to deliver their speeches including words to be avoided to prevent offending the audience or what key issues and reforms they should tackle during campaigns depending on the type of people listening. They advise candidates what attire they should wear on gatherings and political rallies. Certain kind of people especially those bound in culture have their bases or preferences in people that often used in choosing candidates to vote.
Strategies read the voting people by understanding their preferences and based from it, they advise their candidates how to present themselves according to the people’s liking. For instance, in the Cordilleras, strategists are well-aware of the strong influence of culture among the residents.
Advisers understand that a candidate in order to gain the confidence of the people, must not forget to get the blessings of the elders or asking for their support, butcher a couple of hogs for custom purposes, or perform any kind of cultural ritual familiar to the people.
Not doing so may present a candidate as arrogant or someone who is not one with them. So we should not wonder seeing politicians in their traditional costumes on political events. They would speak in traditional tongues for people to know that they are no different. In some events, they are advised by their strategists if they should speak their local dialect or use the English language which is often but wrongfully presented as a language for the educated.
Politicians wanted to capture our hearts. Strategists and politicians themselves spent countless hours understanding the pulse of the people so that they can plan for their next moves. Poor residences usually expect food at the end of campaign rallies so politicians do not usually fail to bring snacks.
Sometimes politicians will talk less about their platforms and talk more of their affiliations because there are audience who are perceived to value the family affiliations more than the platforms of the candidates. This is one example of a political strategy. Why does a politician suddenly got interested in a popular and modern television show even if he/she has never seen a single episode of it? The intention is to present himself/herself to the young voters that he/she understands their generation.
Like it or not, we are all part of this game. We may never meet all candidates face to face but they have their own move of reaching every one of us as part of their strategies. Candidates in the national posts try to visit as many places they can because strategists understand that personal encounter leaves a lasting positive imprint on voters. But since they cannot get to all houses, they use the social media and resort to political advertisements to reach us.
In their advertisements, they use the latest popular novelty songs to introduce themselves and their platforms even if they look awkward on them. It is because they understand that the masses love this novelty songs which add to their appeal.
It is a popular strategy of politicians in the past decades. I still remember the first time Mar Roxas ran for senator and if my memory serves me well, I think he placed first in the official tally. His campaign advertisement that capitulated him to the senate was the famous “Mr. Palengke” line where he visited various market places and happily danced with vendors at the beat of a famous novelty tune. The strategy worked well with him.
Yet Jejomar Binay beat him in the vice presidential race in their face-off after successfully orchestrating a strategy presenting himself as an “underdog” coming from a poor family which Roxas cannot counter because of his family’s wealthy lifestyle. And who did the Filipinos go for? Absolutely, they went for the underdog. Why does the popular “Poong Nazareno” appeal so much to the many Catholic faithful? It is because it presents Christ as the suffering Christ which is related to the concept of an underdog. It was a culture-based strategy.
All politicians, local and national candidates, are playing their own election strategies. They are all actors in a stage performing various acts waiting for applause and appreciation of the people. At some point, they present themselves as intellectuals, strongmen/women, statesmen/women, saviors, entertainers, confidants, experts, helpers, peace-advocates, compassionates, and the faces of genuine change. Many voters will easily get swayed because this strategies are absolutely effective especially for people who refuse to use their minds. The challenge is to separate this political antiques to the person running and see the actual person behind this covers.
This strategies are orchestrated to manipulate the voters’ (our) thoughts. Politicians, with all their effort and resources, try to project themselves as ideal candidates for the position by creating a picture or an image of a person according to our liking. In doing this, they would successfully own our votes.
But the thing is, we cannot allow them to manipulate us because as a one columnist says, the politicians are our applicants and we are part of the hiring committee. In fact, we are the boss. This mind game should not work because we know how politics works, we know who they are, and the thing is, we love this country. The deserving candidate should win. They may utilize strategies, make various moves to get to our minds, but in the end this all end to nothing because we always make the last and final move, the decisive move of casting our ballot.