Why participating in debates is important
Elections are not your typical cockfighting sport where you place your bets on the winning cock and that is all that matters. Elections are much more than that as it is a manifestation of our democracy. Hence, for elections to work properly in a democracy, every citizen should be rightly informed.
Election debates are supposed to serve this purpose. It is proven in the literature that debates have served as “information tools” for the electorate. They can also spark interest among citizens to engage in civic activities and discuss issues.
Lastly, election debates can increase rational voting, which by definition is a vote that is based on issue positions. Relevant studies show how debates can persuade voters to consider and acquire issue positions from their preferred candidate. In other words, debates increase voters’ rationality. This factor is crucial in a country considered rife with personality politics.
These benefits tell us that debates are more than just strategic tools for political campaigns. It is used to bolster democracy by empowering the people. Therefore, strategic withdrawals from debates can be seen as a deliberate rejection of collective welfare in exchange for strategic, selfish interests.
Given these things, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s deliberate aversion to election debates is telling of two things — his intention and character.
His intention is no doubt aimed at winning the presidential election at all costs. He wants to win no matter what, even if it means trading off his integrity and being branded as a coward. He wants to win even if the collective welfare is at stake. For him, his family’s return to power is of utmost priority.
More importantly, this speaks of his character. His aversion to debates is by no mistake a sign of weakness. He can’t handle the heat. Many netizens would point out how Marcos Sr., in comparison, was eloquent and quick-witted. Marcos Jr., on the other hand, does not seem eager to prove that he can hold a candle to his father. This could only mean two things—he is not his father or he simply has no backbone.
Disturbingly, his current attitude also seems to imply that any critical discourse or forms of dissenting opinion would not be welcomed in a potential “Marcos Jr. administration.” The narrative of “positive campaigning,” although it sounds good, is no more than a façade—a veil that hides a fraudulent attempt to undermine critics and create an image of an unquestionable, benevolent dictator in the making.
JOHN JARED GARCIA
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