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» » » » What’s so Interesting about Politics?


JR Lopez Gonzales 5:21 PM 0

Whether a person likes it or not, virtually no one is completely beyond the reach of some kind of political system. A citizen encounters politics in the government of a country, town, school, church, business firm, trade union, club, political party, civic association, and a host of other organizations. Politics is an unavoidable fact of human existence. Everyone is involved in some fashion at some time in some kind of political system.

This is how Yale University’s Robert Dahl opens his book on Modern Political analysis which is definitely holds true in any polity. But the term “politics” often suggests a negative connotation. The term politics suggests a “dirty word” according to David Herd because people feel a combination of skepticism and mistrust.

Add to this, the negative tone of our evening news. In a speech I’ve attended last month in Manila where the one of the keynote speakers was BBC correspondent Rico Hizon, I quote him in saying that the Filipino news tends to make its audience cynical. These are the types of news which initially greets you “Good evening” then moves on telling you why it isn’t.

One of the things most of us which probably hate about politics is its "fog of war". Hardly any of the things you hear are straight forward, blunt truths. Everything is wrapped up in a sticky web of attacks, lies, and some truth. Which, at the end it is very hard to distinguish banter from the truth. Probably, it’s because of the “oppressive arrangements” of our colonizers that were subsequently carried over the succeeding generations. Politics has become a dirty word indeed, when in fact, it shouldn’t really be.

I remember in one of my major class in Political Science a few years back, Prof. Darwin Manubag told us that in other countries like in Australia, people equate the word, “politics” with “good governance”. Most think of what can be done towards the government. If only we have that kind of mindset here in the Philippines.

Mga PoliTikalon. :)

Many of the world’s great leaders were masters of politics, such as Abraham Lincoln, Lee Kuan Yew, Winston Churchill, Deng Xiaoping, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Harry Truman as a matter of fact, had a Ph.D. in political science; while Barack Obama had his PolSci degree from Columbia University in New York.

Politics deals with those relations among men and groups which are subject to control by the state, with the relations of men and groups to the state itself, and with relations of state to other states. Although it is primarily concerned with the association of human beings into a "body politic" or a political community (organized under government and law).

Filipinos have one of the best functioning brains in the world. (Man that just sounded weird). I don’t know, but after watching guys and gals battle for noontime game shows, I think I do know something about intelligence of the Filipino mind.

I suggest if you want proof that we aren’t stupid, just turn on the TV and listen to the retention of facts. It is amazing and it’s proof that the Filipino mind is alive and well. It just isn’t challenged with anything interesting or exciting.

Our challenge, Noam Chomsky said, was to find a way to make politics as gripping and engaging as sports. When we do that, watch how Filipinos will do nothing but talk about who did what to whom at the lower house. But ofcourse, they first have to know what the "lower house" is.
Mababa nga ba na uri ng tao ang nasa "lower house"?
So if you live in a country where almost seven (7) million of people age 15 and overcan’t read and write (2008 est.) and perhaps another million can read but usually don’t – well, you and I are living in one dumb place. A nation that not only churns out illiterate students but goes out of its way to remain ignorant and stupid is a nation that should naturally lag behind its neighboring countries.

The saddening fact is that a smidgen percentage of the Filipino people even bother to read a daily newspaper, beyond the comics, sports, Pinoy showbiz, or the latest lottery combinations. And let’s look at the mighty Filipino TV programming: out of the daily TV broadcasts, only a small percent of the airtime is devoted to stories about politics, the economy, and cultural and social issues. (You may click here for my rants on Philippine TV Shows)That leaves a gargantuan percent for advertising, sports, weather, features, channel promotions, or showbiz.

What’s so exciting about politics? Why should we be aware of the fuss on government operations? The answer’s simple: because as a people, we have to know where we are going.  Because it matters. Our goal is to create a society that maximizes liberty, freedom, and human rights; we want a better Philippines.

Our government’s role is to protect people and to provide needed and desired services that no one else can provide, in as an efficient and effective manner.  For whether Filipinos will be blown to smithereens or will design political arrangements that enable our species to survive is now being determined by politics and politicians.

Our democracy is, arguably, the best government of the options, not because it creates an environment absent of conflict, but because it is the one most fair in managing it. We cannot have a civilized democratic society unless citizens understand objective facts rather than ill-founded beliefs regarding the Constitution, government philosophies, government structures and procedures, and the citizens’ responsibilities in this country of ours.

By being politically observant, it prepares us to be better watch dogs of liberty, better citizens, and to be actively involved in informed public decision making. Critical thinking on politics is the oxygen of democracy. Remove it and democracy becomes ill and eventually dies. 

If all the enlightened minds in the country are summed up, this would mean revolutionary changes for the Philippines and hope for a better future. I am still crossing my fingers that this would happen incrementally from this generation onward.

I use to console myself about the state of stupidity in this country by repeating this to myself: Even if there are ninety million stone-cold dimwits in this country, that would still leave at least a few thousands who’ll get and understand what I’m blabbering on this blog. This is the path for change I take.

References:
Dahl, Robert Alan (1991). Modern Political Analysis. 5th Edition. Prentice Hall: U.S.A.

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