IT appears that politics everywhere has become a game, almost like a sporting event. In fact, the dominant mindset is that it is a game between a "we" and a "them," where if s...
IT appears that politics everywhere has become a game, almost like a sporting event. In fact, the dominant mindset is that it is a game between a "we" and a "them," where if someone is not with us, then that person is against us.
In this context, we are left with several problematic conundrums relative to the theoretical intent of politics.
While politics is undoubtedly a game of power, the ideal intent is to promote the public good and to transcend political differences to serve the common interest of the people.
The ideal political scenario is for political differences to be settled in fair and rational processes that end in a free and informed vote, where the majority determines policy while the minority respects the outcome and prepares for the next round by becoming responsible critics.
But this is more a fantasy world, a utopian ideal that was undermined by the frailties of human weaknesses and the excesses of human greed and ambition.
Not only that, but the political process has also become more unfair, exclusionary and even corrupt, where power is used to silence, exclude and terrorize, thereby undermining the systems of interest representation and the selection of representatives through what should be clean elections.
Greedy and ambitious political actors have now perfected the art of mobilizing their supporters to undermine the integrity of the process by peddling lies, conspiracy theories and fakery to slander and undermine otherwise functioning political processes.
This latter mode is what we see exploding in the United States, where the Trump Republicans have effectively propagated the big lie about imagined electoral fraud in the 2020 elections which Trump honestly lost.
In the underbelly of a poisoned political landscape is the extreme polarization of the electorate. Political cleavages went beyond ideological differences that are manifested in policy disagreements but have become cultural wars that no longer speak in terms of tangible debates, but in terms of identity conflicts.
This is what we see embodied in the toxic polarization of the American political landscape, where debates on the wearing of masks and vaccinations during a time of the pandemic are no longer as mere public health issues, but become manifestations of deep-seated, existential divisions between the liberals and the conservatives.
And sadly, this is what we also see in the Philippines. What makes it more dangerous here is that this is happening in a political landscape where ideologically grounded political parties are practically non-existent and where politics is extremely personalistic.
What actually was a saving grace for us in the past was our enormous sense of shared self, or "kapwa," that went beyond the formalities of state and law and found more meaning and resonance in the operations of organic community institutions and relationships.
We forged political order on the basis of this sense of "kapwa," in our enormous sense of community and our unlimited supply of humor.
However, thanks to the divisive rule that was heightened during the term of Rodrigo Duterte but actually started during the EDSA people power uprising, when political narratives were attached to competing political figures and personalities, and not to competing agenda on how to move forward as a nation.
The rivalry between the Marcoses and the Aquinos planted the seeds of division that tragically placed the political contestations not on the question of which narrative is better for the nation, but on which narrative is better, period. Continue reading on The Manila Times