A citizen-led electoral campaign

Published December 11, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

When we speak about voluntary or citizen-led electoral campaigns, we can think only of former US President Barack Obama’s first election campaign in 2008, and that of Vice President Leni Robredo which is just starting. I am not aware of other presidential campaigns where citizens voluntarily took charge of organizational, logistical a well as financial concerns.The Obama campaign strategy primarily relied on a grassroots army of volunteers who handled tasks such as online recruitment, cash machines, and community organizing. They also became the Obama voices in their own communities.

From the spontaneous reaction to VP’s announcement of her candidacy, we can gauge what her campaign strategy would look like. As soon as word was out that she had agreed to run for the presidency, the city immediately turned into a sea of pink, and before the day was over, the pages of Facebook were flooded with pink ribbons, flowers, cartoons, and greetings of support.

And it appears to be an unstoppable volunteer-driven movement. Fueled by considerable zest, energy, and hope, and primarily among the young, the enthusiasm remains unabated. People Caravans of Hope participated in by thousands of vehicles carrying hashtags like “Proud Kakampink,” “LetLeniLead,” “Fight of the People,” and other pink paraphernalia in over 50 cities, including what is known as the “Solid North.” Pink, according to the volunteers, is a symbol of radicals, the color of new found hope and courage. It is the color of protest and activism and symbolizes aspiration to replace the existing leadership.

One of the more spectacular displays is a gigantic 60-foot mural of Leni-Kiko along Katipunan Avenue to show what a people’s campaign is all about – a labor of love among artists seeking change in 2022. Even over 15 of so buildings in Metro Manila had been covered in pink. And one can also watch short videos or listen to music on YouTube.

Pink has likewise gone international as similar movements had sprouted in Hong Kong, Austria, New York, California, among others.

Many supporters have gone viral with “Lugaw” Kits to raise funds for the campaign. It will be remembered that throughout her stint as VP, she had been ridiculed with the monicker, “Leni Lugaw.” Leni has indicated her desire to replicate what her late husband, Jesse had done while Mayor of Naga City which was to set up a People’s Council that would organize the volunteers and supporters to prevent duplication of programs and resources.

Professor and political analyst July Teehankee notes with interest that two widows had defeated a Marcos father and son. The first was a “widow in yellow” who defeated the older Marcos, and the second, a widow (now in pink) who, earlier, defeated the younger Marcos in the vice presidential race.

Will this be repeated in the coming presidential race?

A worrisome trend in the current surveys is a growing polarization which is only indicative of the deep divisions in our society today – the continuing struggle between the forces of populism and authoritarianism on one hand, and that of democratic participation.

Disinformation, fake news, and the slow response of government to address pressing concerns on the pandemic, the economy (such as the continuing rise in unemployment), challenges in the educational system, corruption, and of course delays by Comelec in resolving electoral issues, are fanning discontent and distrust, and abetting people’s anxieties about the future. We need more good news.

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