We sadly lack the US political system’s stability

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 27, 2020 - 12:00am

In the Philippines, any Tomas, Dikoy or Hilaria can create his own political party, register it and run for public office. In the US, their two-party system dates back to the times of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, or more than three hundred years.

Here, trapos jump from one party to another as often as they change undergarments. In the US, one is born and dies either as a Republican or a Democrat. In our country any nincompoop can run for president because all the Philippine Constitution requires is that he must know how to read and write. While we require a master’s degree for a government clerk to be promoted division chief, and a CESO (Career Executive Service Officer) rank for supervisory and managerial level, to run for president, even a college dropout like Erap or a plain housewife like Cory could become head of state, and head of government. In the US, that will never happen. There is a long screening process, and only the best survives.

This year's US presidential elections, which come third of November, is a long process, which started with public declarations made last year by wannabes. Then they undergo a series of caucuses and primaries, starting the third of February in the state of Iowa, followed by New Hampshire on February 11, the Nevada caucuses on February 22, and South Carolina on February 29. The biggest showdown involving no less than 1,361 delegates will be on Super Tuesday, March 3. There will be simultaneous primaries in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia, 15 states plus the American Samoa, and all the Americans abroad.

The US system requires screening, but here in our country, even a drug addict can file his certificate of candidacy. In the elections of 2016, when Trump was challenged by Hillary Clinton, 29 Republican-dominated states voted for Trump, while 21 Democrat-controlled states went for Hillary. Despite having less number of states, Clinton won the popular votes, leading Trump by more than three million. But the latter won more votes from the Electoral College, where state delegates usually vote as one. That is party discipline. Here in our country, there is no party discipline because political parties are not principle-based, much less ideology-driven. Parties here depend on personalities rather than philosophies.

I predict that Trump will still win this year's presidential polls. Not because he is the best, but because his party has the numbers. And the party delegates always follow strictly the party discipline. There are 25 states with Republican governors and also 25 with Democrats controlling the state capitols. The Republicans control bigger states like Texas, Florida, Mississippi, and Georgia, and the governors in Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Hampshire are Republicans. The US Senate is dominated by Republicans although the Democrats have a slight edge in the House. The stability of US politics lies in party discipline, and turncoatism is a rare phenomenon in the American political system. Only Michael Bloomberg is a turncoat.

Here, in the Philippines, politics is one of convenience, of accommodation and of transactional style. In the US, they are not perfect but they have a more stable system based on issues, ideologies and philosophy. For instance, the Democrats are pro-labor, pro-human rights, pro-immigrants. The Republicans are for big business and for smaller government with lesser taxes. Here, there is no distinction between PDP and Lakas, nor between LP and NP. They are all the same dogs with different collars.


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