Friday, April 23, 2004

Who Will You Vote For?

Who me? I'm still one of the undecided ones. With all the information overload we see on TV, hear on the radio, read in the newspapers and even thru emails, it's getting harder and harder to decide. But I can say with pride that I love my country enough to think thoroughly whom to vote for. And my decision is getting clearer every day. I've received emails about the so called run-off system. That of voting for the most likely to win (according to surveys) and who is less evil and much less ignorant between the two top candidates. But is that wise? (Obviously my choices are not among the top two).

Then somebody sent me an email about an article written by Conrado de Quiros. Allow me to share it with you. Perhaps, it will also help you in deciding. Bottomline? As a Filipino, I'd like my vote to count, not for someone else but for me, my family and my kids' future.

by Conrado de Quiros

I CAUGHT parts of GMA Network's "Debate" TV program last week. Its topic was whether people should vote for another candidate if their own had little chance to win-at least, as determined by the surveys. I was astonished by some of the arguments there, made in particular by those who thought the answer to that question was yes. Whose candidates – Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Fernando Poe Jr. -- of course were enjoying good ratings in the surveys.

One of those, articulated by a Macapagal-Arroyo supporter, was that the voters owed it to their country to do so. If their candidates had no chance to win, he said, they must vote instead for the next best candidate, the one who was more likely to win. That was Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he said. He quoted Manuel Quezon who said, "My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins." You could use "candidate" for "party," he said, and the same principle
holds. It was imperative, he said, that we give the next president a clear majority so that she could rule the country well.

Well, to begin with, if the fellow had done his homework, he would have known that it wasn't altogether altruism that drove Quezon to say what he did. Bolting his party was the only way Quezon could fight for bicameralism, which was also the only way he could get past the shadow of Sergio Osmeña Sr. So long as the legislature was unicameral, Osmeña would always be the recognized leader. But with a Senate and a House or Representatives, Quezon could become Senate president and challenge Osmeña's leadership from that position of power. Which he did, eventually becoming the new top dog.

In this country more than in any other, the devil himself may quote the Scripture to serve his purposes, the scoundrel herself may quote principle to mount perfidy. Quezon's remark has become the motto of every opportunist, ka "turncoat," in this country, of politicians who switch parties as easily as they do Italian shoes, chief of them Macapagal-Arroyo, who has pretty much traversed the entire alphabet switching from one party to another.

But the comment about voting for the "strong candidate" as an act of patriotism is idiotic. To begin with, the last time I looked the principle was still: "I vote for a candidate, he wins. I do not vote for a candidate, he loses." That principle is tacitly recognized by those who are trying to cajole the voters of other candidates to vote for theirs simply because they are strong. If they are strong, then they do not need the votes of the other voters. If they do need the votes of the other voters, then they are not strong, or as strong only as the other voters vote for them. However you slice it, that's
still the rule.

And one that applies exceptionally forcefully in these elections given, as one guest in the show rightly pointed out, the enormous number of undecided. That is the phenomenon in these elections: The closer we get to them, the more undecided the voters become -- the exact opposite of the trend in past elections as we've known them. If any candidate, including the so-called "weak" ones, can stage a last-ditch rally, he or she could still make it. The huge number of undecided also quite incidentally reflects an alarming public mood, one given to cynicism and despair. The point is to make the undecided decided, the despairing hopeful, the lost found. And the only reasonable proposition there is for them is to vote for the best rather than for the "strongest," the capable rather than the popular. For one who has experience turning things around from bad to good, as Raul Roco has done to the Department of Education, rather than from bad to worse as Macapagal-Arroyo has done to the country.

There is only one wasted vote to speak of. That is not the one you give to the candidate you think ought to win but doesn't. It is the one you give to the candidate you know shouldn't win and does -- because of you. You do not vote for a candidate simply so that she or he will win, you vote for a candidate so that the country will win. Voting for a candidate is not the end in itself, it is merely a means. You want a candidate to win because he or she is good for the country, not because she or he is good for herself or her friends.

You don't win because you end up on the side of the scoundrel who wins. Or who wastes your money to put up ads and billboards to win. You lose. The truly wasted vote was the one that went to Joseph Estrada in 1998, notwithstanding that he won. The truly wasted vote is the one that will go to Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004, whether she wins or not. That is a waste for the country. That is wasting the country.

It is neither patriotism nor pragmatism to vote for someone simply because she or he is leading, it is suicide. You only pragmatically screw yourself by making someone who has ample experience only in lying, cheating and stealing win, or continue to rule the country. You only show patriotism in the sense that lemmings show patriotism by throwing themselves off a cliff simply because every other lemming is doing so. I do not know why we want to become a country of

And finally, I've said it before and I say it again, when you vote you are not just voting for someone, you are voting for yourself. You are not just weighing a candidate's character, you are weighing your own. You are not just determining a candidate's merits, you are determining your own. Your vote doesn't just transform the country for good or ill, it transforms you for good or ill. You cannot vote for a candidate you know sucks just because she or he is strong
without damaging yourself, or your soul. What patriotism? You can't be true to yourself, you can't be true to your country. You can't be true to yourself, you can't be true to your flag.

You can't be true to yourself, you'll always be a loser.

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