There’s The Rub

Madness in the method


The UNA, says JV Ejercito, is perfectly willing to coalesce with the LP-NP-NPC, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. “It will be ideal since there is no clear-cut line between the opposition and the administration, not like the way things were during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time in 2007.” Such a super coalition would be good for P-Noy, allowing him to control Congress and push his legislative agenda virtually unopposed.

Edwin Lacierda scoffs at this, and takes a dig at UNA’s professed strength. “I thought UNA was the team to beat, so why are they asking for a coalition?” About the LP’s own plans, he says: “As Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has already mentioned, it will be a coalition slate. As to who will be the senatorial candidate of the particular slate, let’s wait for the announcement from the Liberal Party.”

All this shows yet again what sucks about our politics.

Ejercito in fact is right. “… there’s no clear-cut difference between the opposition and the administration.” At least as principle, framework and thrust go. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t coalesce. At least other than on grounds of personal whim, ambition and ego. That’s pretty much the only thing that distinguishes one party from another in this country: They’re composed of personally different, but ideologically like-minded, individuals. And that’s pretty much what distinguishes administration and opposition in this country: The one is in power, the other is not.

Recent events have driven that point home. UNA was so determined to reel in well-known names to its roster it tried to make Koko Pimentel run with Migz Zubiri notwithstanding that one lost four years of his term to the other. You can’t have a better show of lack of scruples than that. Principles count for nothing, personalities for everything. Decency counts for nothing, “winnability” for everything.

Not to be outdone, the LP has coalesced with two parties whose heads have figured in corruption scandals. Danding Cojuangco, NPC boss, fled the country after Marcos fell to avoid being strung up by a public that saw him as the crony of cronies. Manny Villar, NP boss, is the literal enemy of the daang matuwid, having caused the C5 to take a detour to his properties. The reason for this, as Jinggoy Estrada in turn scoffs at, is that the LP is at pains to fill up its slate with “winnable” candidates.

True enough, as Abad says, the LP-NP-NPC will be a coalition. The question is, a coalition of what?

In fact, the only reason a grand alliance between the LP-NP-NPC and UNA—which will be grand only in size—will never happen is not that the one stands for fighting corruption and the other does not, the one stands for change and the other does not, the one stands for Edsa and the other does not, it is simply because the one cannot stand the other. It is simply because Roxas will have nothing to do with Binay, it is because Roxas will be fighting Binay in 2016, it is because P-Noy will be at pains to decide between a former comrade-in-arms at Edsa and a current comrade-in-harm in the elections.

I do believe in creating alliances, I do believe in forging coalitions, I do believe in building united fronts. But there are rules for these things, chief of them making alliances, coalitions and united fronts only with people who are not patently antagonistic to what you stand for. There’s none of that here. What P-Noy’s party in particular is doing is not making alliances, coalitions, united fronts, it is making a pact with the devil.

But such is the nature of our politics nobody seems surprised at this anymore. Such is the nature of our politics the notion of ensuring victory at all costs, the better to control Congress, and the better to push a legislative agenda, sounds like the sanest thing in the world. When it is in fact the maddest thing in the world.

Fallacy is too good a word to describe it. At the very least what’s wrong with it is that it is self-defeating. You make a pact with the devil to do good, what makes you think the devil will allow it? Or less metaphorically, you make a pact with the corrupt, how can you push your agenda of banishing corruption from this land? You make a pact with people whose survival, interest and thrust lie in keeping things as they are, how can you possibly change things?

What makes this ironic is that well before the well-known candidates became well-known, they were obscure. Well before they became “winnable,” they were unwinnable. Until they won, and got known. You invest only in the well-known and “winnable,” you won’t change anything, you’ll only keep things the way they are.

Even more importantly, what’s wrong with it is that it is self-immolating. You make a pact with the devil, what makes you think you yourself won’t become devilish? Or less metaphorically, you make a pact with the corrupt, how can you assure you will still want to fight corruption afterward? You make a pact with people whose survival, interest and thrust lie in keeping things as they are, how can you assure you yourself won’t end up wanting to keep things as they are?

The saying “the end does not justify the means” isn’t just wise, it is commonsensical. The means does not justify the end simply because it is the means that defines the end. How you do things is what you become. And therefore, how you do things is what you end up doing. It’s not just trapos who prove this, revolutionaries do too, which is how they  turn from revolutionaries to reactionaries. Which is how they turn from changing the world to changing their beliefs. Is it a wonder that after all the changes in government personnel, this country has remained the same?

There’s method in the madness.

There’s madness in the method.

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Tags: Elections , featured column , political coalitions , politics

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