In voting for next president, facts should bear out perceptions
Vice President Leni Robredo once reminded her supporters that she and her political allies do not have a monopoly of goodness. I agree. She may have an outreach program for our country’s poor and marginalized (lenirobredo.com), but so does Bongbong Marcos (bongbongmarcos.com). In fact, it seems that more Filipinos know about the latter, given BBM’s consistent lead in recent voter surveys.
Alas, in a democracy, it is the voters’ perception of a candidate’s goodness that will win elections.
To be sure, the Constitution is silent about goodness being a criterion to win the presidency. What it does say is that if one is a natural-born Filipino, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years old on election day, and a resident for the past 10 years, one can have a go at the presidency.
On the other hand, if we closely read “The Republic,” mere perception of goodness is not enough. Indeed, in Plato’s Academy, a future leader has to go through a rigorous program until he/she turns 50 years old. The progressive development of one’s physical and mental potential by way of numerous tests and trials is just one part of it. More important is the attainment of the cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. Of the four, Plato assigned a special niche to wisdom because if a leader is wise, he/she would know the right degree of courage, temperance, and justice to summon when faced with a crisis.
Just as important as the length of time it takes to imbibe wisdom is the intensity of a leadership development program that is ultimately grounded in the dialectic—that relentless process of asking and answering questions until one arrives at the truth. Like Morpheus’ red pill in “The Matrix,” the dialectic frees up its participants from their presuppositions and prejudices and advances their search for the truth.
Is a presidential candidate who did not accurately state his academic credentials until he got called out, searching for the truth? Is a presidential candidate who did not apparently pay what he owes the state with the court that convicted him searching for the truth?
On the other hand, despite all the bad things hurled at her, Robredo has repeatedly been tested by the kind of fire that can only develop wisdom. After failing her bar exam on her first take, she studied anew and passed it on her second try in 1997. After being widowed in 2012, she became father and mother to a Harvard alumna, a licensed doctor, and an NYU scholar. Notwithstanding the constant ridicule that she endured online and offline, she still did her job with such zeal that for the third straight year, her office earned the highest rating from the Commission on Audit. In short, I do not only perceive Robredo’s goodness to be true. The facts bear out my perception, too.
The question is, what will it take for my fellow Filipinos to think and feel so, too?
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