Wenceslao: Old leaders

Wenceslao: Old leaders
SunStar Wenceslao

The United States presidential elections will be held this year. I always consider this political exercise as a barometer of sorts for the global social climate, with the United States being the leading practitioner of the kind of liberal democracy that many countries worldwide have put in place. That includes the Philippines, of course.

The Democrats seem bent on having Joe Biden, who is already 81 years old, run for reelection. Or is it Biden who is so bent on running the party could not do anything much to prevent him from doing so? Biden will again be battling the Republican’s Donald Trump, whom Biden already defeated four years ago. Trump is only three years younger than Biden, which would make the next presidential elections in the US a battle between old leaders.

Trump, in a recent debate, looked and sounded fresher than Biden. Or should I say his lies looked and sounded fresher than the old tales that the slow and forgetful Biden spewed. There are younger candidates, true, but they are what you can describe as mere outsiders, succumbing to the kind of two-party election that the US practices. In that electoral setup, independents rarely win.

Which reminds me of how old leaders will also be dominating the coming mayoral election in Cebu City. While Mayor Michael Rama is already old, he could be battling the older Tomas Osmeña. I used to cover the Cebu City Hall beat when I was a young reporter and Osmeña was the mayor. You’ll know that Osmeña has political plans because he suddenly exhibits an openness to interviews by reporters. In this age of social media, Osmeña no longer waits for interviews by reporters. He crafts his own social media plan.

Rama vs. Osmeña? For the uninitiated, I would say that Rama owes his political career to Osmeña. Rama used to be with the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan or BOPK, starting off as a city councilor and gradually rising up to become vice mayor and then mayor. That was in a time when Osmeña ruled the city mainly owing to his being the son of Serging, who is in turn the son of Don Sergio, a former president. Tomas’ old partner and later bitter political rival was Alvin Garcia, father of the current acting mayor, Raymond. Had the Osmeña-Garcia partnership held up, Rama would not have become mayor and would have remained on the city’s political periphery.

But in a battle of old political leaders in Cebu City, I tilt a bit towards Osmeña, at least in articulating plans and policies. I don’t know, however, if his age and his health would hold up if he becomes mayor again. But questions about health have hounded Rama himself. Which is why we are seeing parallels between a Rama vs. Osmeña electoral joust and a Trump vs. Biden political war.

Cebuanos have a term for that: “way mapili.” Of course, the equation changes if Raymond decides to run for mayor himself. He is relatively young and has considerable experience in governance. But Raymond seems to march to his own beat. Meaning that he follows his own schedule, and running for mayor in 2025 may not yet be on that schedule.


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