WE JUST had our midterm elections, and losers, as usual, let fly angry words about vote-buying, coercing, and cheating that detract from a free and fair electoral exercise.
But then, as usual, before one knows it, everything stops. A pall of silence hangs over the political landscape and as quickly as they come the words fly away as Filipinos get back to their traditional ways of coping with social reality: one, submission to God’s will as uttered by His self-proclaimed representatives (business, political and religious leaders) and, two, dependence on God’s and the same representatives’ action or, as happens more often, inaction on our problems.
The optimists among us are happy to observe signs of hope in the results of the just concluded mid-term elections. Many local political dynasties were unceremoniously led out the door of their long-held and heavily fortified political castles. Also, voters’ choice of senators, with the clear exception of Marcos, Lapid, and Revilla, indicates what might possibly be a degree of mature political thinking.
Indeed, there is hope. That’s the good news. But the bad news is, in the words of John C. Maxwell, “hope is not a strategy.” And a strategy is needed to get to where we want our hope to bring us. Yet the painful reality is that, as The Bee Gees would sing it, “it’s only words and words are all (we) have to take (the motherland’s) love away.”
A milestone in this nation’s drive towards political maturity is the establishment of a genuine party system as the core of the electoral process. Then we no longer vote for an individual’s honeyed promises but for a political party’s social philosophy and strategy of governance.
In a two or three party system the winning party is required to get a clear majority of the votes cast as is essential in democracy. And with only the votes for two or three parties to count, computers are not necessary. Manual counting can be done with speed and transparency before a watchful public.
For obvious reasons, however, traditional politicians will not want to shift to a strict party system that, as the political maturity of Filipinos grows, will dismantle the system of elitist patronage politics that is making a mockery of democracy.
This should tell us that we need to pressure new political personalities to strategize towards establishing a strict (no independents) party system where voting is not for individuals but for parties. Federalism, incidentally, could be this strategy.
Or, let me put it this way, federalism or not, unless a genuine party system is part of our form of government, free, fair and transparent elections will stay as mere words and our political malaise can only get worse.