CERTAIN ISSUES are too predictable and almost expected to be adopted by any candidate for high office. What about positions on inconsequential issues often overlooked in favor of the sweeping themes that pop up in debates?
Here are some insignificant advocacies searching for a candidate:
1.) Public pronouncements should be taken at face value, even when made late at night and in an unfamiliar setting. If somebody doesn’t want to be misquoted, he should stick to a carefully prepared speech. Off-the-cuff pronouncements on the body weight and hairdo of critics, their dubious parentage, and the categorization as organic waste of auditing organizations can be avoided.
2.) Working from home should be governed by common rules, including attire, at least for the upper body. Such distractions as barking dogs and crying babies can be solved by muting the offending party. Other areas for concern include turn-taking and a time limit on questions. Such rules can be promulgated, even as mere suggestions.
3.) Civility in social media should be restored. Worthless sniping at pet peeves and critics only invites violence, even if only verbal. Good manners can start with the conviction that every person is entitled to her own opinion. Political discourse over chat groups can be contentious and best avoided. The same with stands on vaccination, the behavior of admitting desks of hospitals, and the alternative cures for the virus. Offenders posting fake news and doomsday scenarios can just be ignored by all.
4.) Trolls that are paid and unleashed on critics of their client or principal should be identified by their affiliation. This is anyway obvious by the positions they take and the targets they attack.
5.) Euphemisms contribute to a more fruitful discussion. Instead of scabrous rants, some formula for a response that is harmless and does not rattle the climate for investments can be devised. The effort will allow people to be more indirect in alluding to another’s mother belonging to the oldest profession. Example — your mother is a hibiscus enthusiast.
6.) The economic recovery of small businesses in the various categories of lockdowns should be considered. These SMSE’s employ over 90% of the labor force in various states of employment including contractuals, outsourced organization (like messengerial services), and professionals like tax consultants and dermatologists. Do they have a lobby group? Are there government organizations, like the Department of Trade or NEDA that should be listened to occasionally when they advocate economic recovery held back by the lockdowns in all shapes and forms?
7.) The understanding of the issue of fishing rights and control of the disputed waters can be illuminated with the proper nomenclature. Can everybody agree to call this area the “West Philippine Sea,” instead of the other reference using another country’s southern parts?
8.) What about a biggie, like the fight against corruption which not only enlarges the national debt and widens the budget deficit but also distorts national priorities? This is too obvious to even include in this list of issues. But then again, somebody already made this the cornerstone of his winning campaign and has since forgotten the promise he made. (If you can’t beat them, join them?) Of course, he might claim that it was all a joke. Everything seems to be.
Political analysts are quick to point out that issues to be championed need to connect with the voting majority, often referred to as the masa. This anonymous demographic segment, mostly below the poverty line, is characterized as uninterested in issues and open to vote buying, free meals and transport, and under the control of political dynasties. Do they even pay attention to speeches and issues?
Voter’s education, pursued by civil society, mostly revolve on accelerating registration of new voters (the youth) and highlighting candidates and what they stand for. Do issues like poverty, food sufficiency, education, and upward mobility connect with the voting majority? It is the frustration of those who push for “educating the voter” that we are stuck with the politics of personality. Should celebrity status always trump issues?
Can social media make issues (and those who champion them) relevant again? As Alexander Pope puts it, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Maybe, with a little push.
Tony Samson is Chairman and CEO of TOUCH xda