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Opinion

Can a movement win vs traditional politics?

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

Finally, the political dust is beginning to settle. This is an old expression which means that it is becoming clearer. However, this does not mean that it is completely clear and there will be no more surprises.

It is clear that the Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte camps have forged an alliance for the coming 2022 presidential elections. However, there are aspects to this ceremony that I found intriguing.

First, what was the role of President Digong Duterte? He was not seen in any of the photos cementing the alliance. I find it hard to believe that he had no role. I must confess that I have been a little intrigued by his political actions in recent weeks.

At first, he vehemently and publicly opposed the idea of his daughter running for president. Then he made some public statements that his daughter would be running for president. Perhaps this was just for show; but when he said his daughter was going to run, everybody believed him. When Sara announced she would not run and she would support Marcos Jr., I cannot help but think that this has somehow affected the President’s credibility.

I am also wondering why the formalizing of the alliance was done in Cebu and not Davao City. Is this supposed neutral ground? I would have thought Davao would be a politically ideal place. The political union would then have the public blessings of the President.

The next speculation is whether Sara Duterte would run for vice president or Davao City mayor.

I have no inside information on this, but I would think she would prefer to be city mayor rather than vice president. As vice president she would be at the political mercy of the president. As city mayor of one of  the largest cities in the country, she has control of her own political agenda and her own projects.  A vice president usually can make a name if he or she is an opposition leader to the current president. As city mayor the agenda is at the disposal of the mayor.

As city mayor, Sara will have an easier time maintaining Davao as a Duterte bailiwick. The next political event I am waiting for is the naming of the vice president and senatorial line up of Marcos Jr. The other presidential candidates would have to decide whether they would accept senatorial candidates who will also be in the Marcos Jr. line up. There would be some who will have no qualms adopting candidates from the Marcos Jr. camp. I will wait expectantly from the 1Sambayan group whether they would go to that extent.

I already heard on television that Chiz Escudero would accept an offer from the Marcos Jr. camp to join his ticket. It should be noted that his father was a former Cabinet member of Marcos Sr.

While social media will be critical in this campaign, I believe that television will still be very important, especially in reaching the CDE classes. While it may still be early, I can see that there are two types of campaign in this coming election. The first will be the traditional, political campaign relying on resources as the main weapons.

The first rule in any traditional campaign is to identify the voters inclined to vote for you and ensure that they stay in your camp until election day and they go to the precincts to vote. The traditional politicians with tremendous resources have an advantage. The best network for this are the barangay captains who are usually part of the network of the mayors. This is the reason why the support of local mayors is so important. Thus, gaining access to this network and activating it for a certain candidate is so important.

However, past experience shows that the attention of local candidates, especially mayors and governors, will be focused primarily on their own elections. It will take tremendous financial resources to expect them to divert some of their attention to national candidates.

On the other hand, there is another type of political campaign. While it uses some elements of traditional politics like seeking the support of local politicians, it depends more on self-activated volunteer groups.

I prefer to call this type of campaign as more of a movement than a political campaign. There are very few candidates that can generate sufficient enthusiasm to be able to generate a movement. There are many people who can be motivated to vote and attend rallies, just like the enthusiasm generated by movie stars or well-known athletes.

The people who join movements must be sufficiently motivated to sacrifice their own personal time and even financial resources. The candidates must be the ones who inspire specific groups of people who are willing to work without thinking of future rewards like financial compensation as in traditional campaigns.

The primary motivation for a movement is a desire for sincere change in society and the hope that they see personified in their candidates.

The greatest challenge in a movement is to turn that volunteer energy and enthusiasm into organized work. The ideal structure for a movement is to mobilize nonpolitical organized groups like religious groups, youth movements, labor unions and NGOs as the backbone of the movement. Then it can gradually spread to neighborhood groups, like-minded individuals getting together and to the most important sector – the CDE classes.

This contest between the traditional political forces and a movement will determine the fate of our country for, at least, the next three decades or a generation.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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