Beyond surnames

                Recent surveys for the senatorial election paints a familiar picture: many top-ranked candidates are either re-electionists or relatives of incumbent or former politicians. This, once again, prompts a discussion on political dynasties.

Dynastic politics is not unique to the Philippines, there’s Kennedys and Roosevelts in United States. Following the footsteps of one’s parent is not in itself unacceptable. Therefore, nothing makes it wrong in principle. In practice, however, its prevalence exemplifies a paradox to our democracy.

Election have formalized the procedure of political succession through a ‘democratic’ exercise which legitimizes the process of giving the illusion that the public has the power to choose its leaders, even though the pool of candidates is oftentimes limited to a set of individuals with familiar surnames.

Whether it’s an issue that should concern voters or the dynasties themselves, I think that political dynasty is not something to argue, if and only if, that running bloodline official has exerted the right amount of effort to work all the way up to deliver what has been promised as “public service” during campaign period. Otherwise, considering the issue as simply a political destiny is entirely inappropriate.

The previous electoral politics in the country has been crowded with dynastic politicians. One significant reason for its existence is contributed by our parents. As traditional voters, they have a high tendency to settle for the assurance of having the same government after the election instead of taking the risk to experience further changes for the betterment. They support candidates who are closely-related to former or current officials because they believe they possess the same goal with its relative officials. Furthermore, they also believe that they are the only perfect successors to what have been started, if there’s any.

Youth as fresh voters, on the other hand, don’t primarily realize how important their vote could be. That’s why they consult their parent’s choice and make them a preference for their own. It’s still democratic though, except that they become blind followers of their parents who unconsciously patronize a legacy of elite people. Again, to clarify things out, democracy is defined as a form of government in which people have a say in who should hold power. “People” there means EVERY voter; be it the parents whom I refer to as ‘traditional voters’ or the youth who are fresh voters. Whenever the youth fails to decide for themselves, that’s when the inevitable influence take over. And for me, it no longer serves the real essence of a democratic election.

                As a soon-to-be-first-time voter, I also once asked for my parents’ bet for this coming election, but that does not necessarily mean that I need to recall their mentioned names as basis in choosing whom to entrust my vote this coming Election. I’m still on the process of observing deserving candidates to execute the platforms towards an ideal government. A famous Chinese proverb goes; “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I say, instead of feeding the young minds with fixed verdict, we should rather empower them for their early realization of their communal responsibilities as the contemporary members of the society. Let them exercise the freedom to express PERSONAL CHOICE that is free from any influence by the majority’s choice, not even the appealing surnames should affect their assessment to our leaders. Youth is indeed the hope of the nation. The power to shape the future lies within us. Let us take worth-taking risks. Let us vote beyond surnames.

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