In my last article, I had written about Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte and his steady procession of ill-defined promises, controversial comments and attitudes, and delusionally proposed courses of action.
I have received several responses to that article which have made me appreciative of their authors’ feelings. Generally speaking, the respondents felt that my article fell short of getting the message across to Rodrigo Duterte’s most receptive audience, the denizens of the discontented masses. The focal point of my message was that Duterte was snookering his vulnerable followers into believing that the toughest problems besetting the Philippines could be solved firstly by distilling them down to the most simplistic terms, and then by outlining those problems in such a way that they appear as if they could be decisively resolved with little more than the assertion of firm, resolute leadership.
The respondents reminded me that many of Duterte’s supporters tend to be commonplace, low information citizens who have not been fortunate enough to have had a proper formal education. The bulk of Duterte’s supporters, like the man himself, are unmoored from the reality of what is possible and are instead clinging blindly to his sometimes deliberate, sometimes impetuous equivocations. Therefore, how could one provoke objective argument and discussion about Duterte’s (or Jejomar Binay’s for that matter) candidacy among his supporters and make them see the light?
The best answer I can come up with is to place the onus on the educated Filipino middle and intellectual classes. They must do whatever they can in the short time remaining to authoritatively inform and educate voters so they can make the most discerning choices possible this coming May.
The emergence of viable anti-establishment candidates is converging with voters’ disillusionment with underperforming and disreputable professional, careerist politicians. The thing is, disillusionment can breed incomprehension and lead to indiscriminate decision making.
This disillusionment is not going to go away of its own accord. The educated among the Philippine bodypolitic has its work cut out for them if they hope to stop ignorant voters from making a big mistake. They must leave no stone unturned in developing the sociopolitical consciousness of voters so that those voters will pick the best name to lead the country, not the first convincing candidate they instantly see and hear.
True education and enlightenment are the proven antidotes to voter apathy, fatigue, and regret. Easier said than done, yes. But oh so necessary as time is running out before the May 2016 election.