Philippine elections have always been a sideshow: with politicians acting like clowns with their dancing, singing, and trying hard to be funny or to identify themselves with the common people with their antics. And of course, there is the usual declaration of love for the people and the issuance of vague promises. But the magic comes after elections when they make the people’s money disappear.
However, to see such spectacle in US elections is quite a new thing. US elections have impressed the world as something quite serious and boring. For the November 2016 US elections, to have a joke of a candidate like Donald Trump, who political observers viewed initially as a nuisance candidate and was not supposed to make it very far in the primaries, has been quite a novelty. It was only supposed to add comic relief to the US electoral process.
But Trump’s strong showing in the Republican primaries has baffled political pundits and has been a cause for alarm even among mainstream Republicans, as well as other nations who have been the subject of his xenophobic attacks. Trump’s candidacy has brought Americans to the point of laughter, then surprise and now alarm. So how and why did Trump’s candidacy last this far and is now even on the brink of bagging the much sought after position of official candidate?
For sure the reason for this is neither his outrageous hairstyle nor his inane, absurd comments that borders on the dark comedic tragedy. His strong showing is a manifestation of the desperation of the American people and their impatience over the vague promises of politicians, which later turn out to be a burden to the American people anyway.
Trump offers a relief from the burden of the crisis and from the wars, no matter how absurd it is, by closing US borders, legalizing torture, and killing the perceived enemies of the US with more vigor. Trump provides clear-cut answers on what he intends to do and not vague references that meant just more of the same policy directions. Trump is without doubt xenophobic, bellicose, and a fascist. And we should be alarmed not only because he has chances of winning the US presidential elections but more so because his being so is becoming attractive to a substantial number of US voters.
Desperation leads people to do extreme measures such as voting for Trump whose ideas are very extreme right.
This is the same feeling of desperation that is driving a substantial number of Filipinos to prefer candidates who offer swift solutions to the crisis, poverty, corruption and criminality such as the dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and the brand of “kill all” politics that Rodrigo Duterte represents. Duterte has been spewing expletives and has been threatening to kill all who would go against his will but he has been promising to solve corruption and criminality in six months. What is alarming over the voter preferences that Bongbong Marcos has been getting is not so much that it is because the youth now do not know about what really happened during Martial Law that is why they are inclined to vote for him. What is more alarming is the fact that a substantial number of voters are inclined to vote for him because they believe that a declaration of martial law could solve the country’s problems, and that the Marcos dictatorship saved the country from economic ruin, corruption, criminality and divisive elite politics.
A substantial number of Filipinos are desperate and are leaning toward extreme measures.
To counter Trump, Americans should be educated that there exists another choice besides the rightist politics and neoliberal policy direction of mainstream US politicians and the extreme right politics and policy direction of Trump. But that alternative would not arise from the current crop of candidates for US president; it would result from their direct, collective political action.
To counter Marcos and the wrong notions about Martial Law and the Marcos dictatorship, it is not enough to educate the youth about what really happened during those dark years in the nation’s history. The Filipino people should be educated that there is an alternative besides the subservient politics and neoliberal economics of most mainstream political candidates who have been promising to solve corruption, poverty, the crisis, joblessness, and criminality by essentially merely repeating the policy directions of previous administrations.
But that alternative would likewise emanate and result from the peoples’ direct, collective political action. And it should not merely be a repeat of People Power 1 and 2. This time, the people should have a say in the political, economic, social and cultural policy directions and programs of the government that the people themselves, and not the Philippine Constitution, would install.