Show’s over: Politics is not a circus
In a government surrounded by ridiculous political stunts and clownery governance, there is no room for politicians who would only exacerbate the circus.
As the 2022 election looms closer, we have witnessed a rise of popular personalities and influencers shifting to politics, echoing similar narratives and tactics to gain Filipino’s trust: to extend their service to a greater number of people, and to alleviate the lives of those in need. From national posts to local seats, many television and film stars, former matinee idols, public service program hosts, and even sports legends have steered away from the limelight, making a bold shift of career path – with questionable intentions and fuzzy direction of governance. Their reasons for running always boil down to a single hope of helping their countrymen—as if it’s the only prerequisite to become a leader, and for others, to govern a suffering nation.
In the Philippines, running for a political seat is almost open to anyone, if not, exclusive to the majority. As long as you are a natural-born Filipino who could read and write, the Constitution would allow you to seek a political post — regardless of your educational attainment, track record, and experience in governance. In a democratic country that aims to recognize equal rights and opportunities for each and every Filipino, the policy justifies its reason. After all, one’s educational background does not reflect one’s capability to lead. In fact, we have seen former human rights lawyers, and even bar exam topnotchers, who were once advocates of the masses’ plight, but now enablers of murderers, and worse, became murderers themselves.
But on the flip side, this opens doors for self-serving personalities who act like saviors of the country, but are villains in reality. They try to frame people as protagonists of their true-to-be-good promises—only to find out that their narratives are only used as lid holes of a politician’s personal gain. These popular personalities turned political figures are everywhere: in the Senate, in Congress, and even in local seats. And as the 2022 polls draw near, the number of celebrities, influencers, and sports legends retiring from their field to try their shot in politics just gets bigger—which brings more clownery in an already alarming picture of a circus-like governance.
This might beg the question as to why such candidates keep being elected, but the same also goes for other aspirants – where limited opportunities have widened the gap. More than meeting the requirements for filing a certificate of candidacy, running for any position within the government requires money, and a lot of it, too. The resources needed to organize and sustain an election campaign, build enough exposure to reach the masses, make connections – all these are unspoken prerequisites that no doubt gives candidates an edge during the campaign season.
That, in addition to the prominent personality-based politics, only adds to the grim reality of every election within the Philippines: it’s not that we are short of qualified candidates, but rather, full of opportunists who would rather boost themselves.
The power to elect officials has always been within the hands of the people. However, as time went by, we are led to believe that we have no choice but to settle for what’s available, may they be a form of lesser evil or a “tried-and-tested” personality whose heart always seemed to go out to the masses. Years of corruption had long eroded our trust with government-elected positions, and so we take our chances with popular individuals in hopes that they will continue their service after being elected to their post. But the pandemic alone has shown that it takes more than personality to lead our country – it takes experience, skill, and most of all, a solid grasp of responsibility and accountability that each position entails. We cannot simply elect such people and hope that they will do what they always have, or expect them to be able to craft laws, manage crises, and implement changes that will make a slightest dent to decades of systemic corruption. In choosing the next set of leaders that will determine the course of our history, we must remember: anyone can run for a government position, but not everyone has what it takes to govern.
Politics should neither be a retirement plan for personalities who lost their fame nor a new venture for influencers and legends who have little to no experience in governance.
With the heightened brunt of the pandemic and challenged economic state, we do not need leaders who would ask for cuts and time out like they would in television and sports: we have enough of them in the current government slate, and gone are the days where we can stomach the same old show.