The tyranny of numbers

DIRECT FROM THE LABOR FRONT - Atty Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 11, 2013 - 12:00am

The labor front is deeply concerned that, by all indications, the most likely winners in the coming electoral exercise may not be those who are thought to be the most qualified. Based on historical voting patterns, and by the emerging trends of poll surveys nowadays, the ones with the best qualifications and the most appropriate platforms of government will most probably lose. They won't make it simply because they won't buy votes, they won't ferry voters to the voting centers, they would not offer food and drinks. They will play by the rules. That is why they will lose. The winners have goons, they have armories ready to wage war. The righteous will stand by their principles. Most of the voters expect money, they expect free food and free transport. And the moneyed will give it all. The winners will have their day.The losers will accept defeat and, perhaps, vow to run again and lose.The winners will rule over us in the many years to come. That is how the cookie crumbles in a struggling democracy like ours.

Politics in a democracy is a game of numbers, not a contest of credentials or platforms. A holder of a Masters degree from La Salle or Ateneo or even a doctorate degree from Harvard, Stanford or Yale, may lose to an illiterate who has no high school diploma, but who is a handsome actor or a wealthy boxer, a popular basketball player or a billionaire gambling lord, or a drug lord with a lot of moola. A Bar topnotcher (remember the fate of GiboTeodoro or Claro M. Recto?) can lose to a less qualified candidate with much less credentials but who can ride on the passing rage of a manipulated populace.  Elections in our country are won not by the most competent or the most righteous but by the ones who break all the rules and get away with it.

In the colorful language of Congresswoman Lucy Gomez-Torres, when told that she was ousted from Congress barely a month before the end of her term, "Ang politika daw dito sa atin ay larong mga demonyo." What a mouthful from the most unlikely person to come up with such wit and sarcasm. We are used to hearing those sorts of words, hyperbole and simile, from Senator Miriam, or from Jamby Madrigal, from Secretary Leila de Lima, or from the late Comelec Commissioner HaydeeYorac. But coming from the forever prim and proper Lucy, there must be a lot of  truth to it. If indeed, the demons will dominate the elections again, then evil will triumph once more, only because the good men, the really good candidates will refuse to break the rules, will not dare to go out side the box and ''dance with the devil'' in some sort of a war dance, replete with fire and gold.

And so, we will continue to have a bunch of political leaders who shall reflect the kind of electorate, the quality of our body politic, if you will. We may never see again the glory that was our past, and the grandeur that was our nation then. Take the Senate, for instance. When we were young, we always loved to hear the privilege speeches and parliamentary debates of Raul Manglapus, Ninoy Aquino, Emmanuel Pelaez, Jovito Salonga, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Arturo Tolentino, Lorenzo Tanada, and Jose W.Diokno. Today, we have comedians, action stars and all sorts of character who are incapable of inspiring our youth. In the days of our fathers, Senators were of the caliber of Claro M. Recto, Jose P. Laurel, our own Felimon and Vicente Sotto.Today, we no longer hold senators in awe and profound respect. Before, senators and congressmen were makers of laws. Today, they are makers of roads, bridges, basketball courts, overpasses and waiting sheds.

And so, by Monday late night, or by Tuesday afternoon this coming week, should your favorite decent candidate fail to make it, just try to grin and bear it. He shall have lost only because he refused to break the rules. He refused to dance with fire. He refused to play the games of the demons. In a numbers' game like politics, those who refuse to be dirtied and scarred will most probably bite the dust. In that sense, and in the context of Philippine ''realpolitik'', losing an election may even be more honorable than winning it the usual dirty way. Given these hard and painful realities in our country, the labor front weeps in silent anguish and agony.

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