Money driven elections

Published October 17, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Fr. Rolando V. De La Rosa, OP


Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa

This early, many candidates in next year’s election are spending millions of money on posters, banners, T-shirts and advertisements to imprint their names in our memory and get our precious votes.

Lets we forget, our duty as voters is not just to elect candidates to public office, but also more importantly, to keep them in the proper place, which is to be our SERVANTS, not our lords and masters. Many of us tend to become passive recipients of their benevolence after the election.

In our Gospel reading for today, Our Lord Jesus Christ gives a definitive description of a leader: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slaves of all” (Mark 10:43-44). He himself personified this when He declared: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

But our twisted form of democracy has subverted that noble idea of leadership. The number of leaders, who have been elected to public office because of popularity or wealth, seems to validate the impression that democracy in the Philippines has succeeded unto death.

The significant role, which money and political machinery play in every election, turns voters into pragmatists. Brainwashed by political advertisements and surveys, voters tend to put winnability above honesty and integrity. One young student remarked, perhaps out of desperation: “Why should I vote for someone with a good track record but has no chance of winning? During these times, I have to be practical.”

Honest candidates with no political machinery and wealth are tempted to adopt the same mind frame. They join a party that will assure them of victory, even if this party includes candidates with dubious character. As one local candidate quips: “If my only chance at winning is to associate myself with those who have enriched themselves at the expense of their constituents, what’s wrong with that? Why be sincere and honest when many are rewarded for their greed?”

The politics of greed is a bottomless pit. No matter how many times a politician wins in an election, he remains insatiable because today’s luxuries are tomorrow’s necessities. A senator might be happy sitting in Congress today, but tomorrow it will bore him. He starts dreaming of becoming president. A president may feel content with being in his office today, but tomorrow, he will dream of staying there for as long as possible.

Ideally, an election serves as an arena for excellent leaders to exhibit the nobility of their aspirations and their willingness to serve. Today, it resembles more an auction sale of recycled and power-hungry personalities.

Gore Vidal’s criticism of the American election also applies to ours: “Our system of electing politicians to office is rotten and corrupted to its core because money has long since replaced organized and enlightened public opinion. And most of it comes from rich people and corporations, who now own our political process—lock, stock, and (pork) barrel.”

Bertrand Russell once wrote that democracy, no matter how bad an idea it is, has at least one merit. In a democracy, the leader cannot be more stupid than his constituents. For, if he proves himself stupid while in office, the more stupid still are his constituents for having elected him.