Wishing it’s the tenth of May

Published May 1, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRIPE-VINE: OUR NEW ABNORMAL

Don’t look now, but there’s just eight more days before our election day descends upon us – one day after Mother’s Day. And no, I’m not trying to imply there’s any connection, just mentioning the sequence of events. And while I may be in the minority; from talking to friends and people, I know I’m not completely alone in saying that I wish it was May 10 or 11 today, and that the elections were over.

While the vast majority may be caught up in the partisan excitement and polarizing aspects of this election, I’m left cold and disappointed over how “babaw” this election has become. That while the stakes are definitely high, the manner in which this election has developed and how it’s covered (and yes, I’ll admit we may be a guilty party to this as well), leaves much to be desired. If one is looking for a discussion of issues and a sober assessment of what platforms our candidates are espousing, that stands as much chance of success as trying to pass a carabao through the eye of a needle.

On that, the blame can be squarely shared, and it’s not just media coverage at fault. Several of our candidates are running on the basis of name recall, perceived (or imagined) popularity, a cancel culture mentality, delusions of absolute grandeur, and/or the proverbial wing and a prayer — name the candidates, and take your pick. Plus we’ve had such ill-conceived attempts/”gimmicks” to gain “new” attention and favor by some candidates — let’s talk about I’ll-advised press conferences.

When preaching to the converted, it’s like arguing with a wall — these converted are immovable, stubborn, and motivated by blind worship. And whether we like it or not, that pretty much characterizes the vast majority of our electorate. Rational discourse or discussion isn’t even remotely part of their agenda. At one level, it’s blind fanaticism, disguised as ‘making the right choice’.

Of late, if you analyze the election coverage, the paucity of issues and platforms have forced us to resort to counting number of attendees at political rallies. Hello! That’s the controversial bone of contention of this winding-up period; and I’m sorely disappointed that we’ve put so much importance on these figures that are actually meaningless. People attending rallies doesn’t translate to votes cast. There are a myriad of motives for attending these rallies in the provinces, starting with its the happening of that particular day; not to even bring up the “hakot” factor. If you ask the organizers, don’t you think they’ll always overstate the attendance figure?

And yet, these attendance estimates have become such hot, trending clickbait topics. Yes, it may keep the election discourse flowing, and even help “sell” the output of various media platforms and social media feeds; but it’s a prime example of so much “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” So don’t even ask me to explain why so much column space and online feeds have been dedicated to these fudged, inherently unreliable, statistics.

It’s 2022, so it baffles me why we still talk about political dynasties, or how it makes good optics to play lip service to saying one is against these dynasties. Baffling because no matter what region you check, no matter what level of national or local government/politics, these dynasties proliferate — and are the rule, more than the exception.

Isn’t it time we lay talk of dynasties to rest, and just accept it’s a non-issue? The name recall factor that propel these dynasties, thinly disguising how they’re all about protecting vested interests and preserving the status quo, apparently overwhelm any distaste we may have for this manifestation of entitlement and strong-arm politics. My question then is why bother trafficking in deniability and “calling the kettle white,” when it’s so obviously black? So many of the ones claiming they’re opposed to dynasties are themselves guilty of perpetuating them — the irony of ironies.

One last trivial matter, but I’ll be happy to have this election over, and how it’ll be safe to leave our homes without being perpetually color-coded. I’ve been partial to wearing pink since the 1980’s, and I’ve hated how so many times, it’s been taken as a form of political affiliation. Same thing happens if I happen to be wearing red. Over the last months, it’s like white and black were the only safe colors, and that was so irritating.

So yes, I’m extremely tired of the elections, and I really wish it was over and not still a week away. For only when it’s truly done and dusted, can we set our minds and goals to forge the national recovery we so badly need. In a hotly contested battle, where emotions run high, democracy can be a bitter pill to swallow. But when all the votes are counted, we can only pray that united support for the new President is the order of the day, and we can finally place political differences aside.

 
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