Trusting the system

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

IT’S fascinating how everyone’s all riled up about the results of the recent midterm elections. As expected, we’re treated to the same uninspired and unoriginal statements about how dark days are coming and how politics has become a circus (as it always should be).

We decent folk deserve much better, so it’s understandable that we express disappointment by taking sarcastic jabs at the low-lives who voted for a shady contractor, a clueless former police chief, a budots-dancing 90s action star, and a dictator’s daughter. It takes a special class of elitist political “experts” to blame the poor for making bad decisions. We get it! You voted for the smartest individuals on the ballot. You followed Rappler and all the utterly vapid “progressive” news outlets. But all this seemed useless, considering that we had seen this coming from a mile away

The system was rigged from the start, and it’s not faulty SD cards or voter repression that did it in, but it’s the system itself and the flimsy platform it stands on. Rampant vote-buying and fraud are the least of our worries when we think about how the candidates are awfully good at exploiting hearts and minds and giving crumbs and crap in return.

And yet, somehow, the democratic project’s most rabid supporters are seeing this as a tiny bump on the road, as an avoidable mishap that should be properly corrected in the future. Illusions are free, only if they’re meant to imprison us in a surreal wonderland filled with empty promises and events that are unlikely to happen.

What has passed over everyone’s head in all this is the lamentable state of the electoral system itself. That little thing we do every three years is problematic. History has proven that in many instances, from the rise of the Jacobins to the Fascist wave of the 1920s. The right to vote has also come to mean the right to hang ourselves by the neck and still call it a great service to the nation.

Indeed, when people vote for their leaders, they do so based on personal standards. It’s hard to be objective when you’re meant to base your choices on personal experiences and biases. Which means to say that the administration’s stalwarts not only won the vote of the proles, but also secured a strong support base from the middle and upper strata that manage their own criteria.

What’s wrong here? Shortly after the elections, the world of social media was flooded with posts that attempt to dissect the situation using statistical tools. Of course, the administration’s picks got a large bulk of the popular vote from classes D and E. For many of these analysts and fly-by-night social scientists, these are the segments that have the least access to information tools, supposedly making them vulnerable to the disgusting propaganda machines of the power-mongering corrupt.

Then again, how will this explain the efficiency of propaganda prior to Facebook and Twitter? How will this explain the fact that Erap Estrada, a movie actor more famous for his charisma, was able to win an election in the absence of social media? Wouldn’t Hitler and the rest of history’s rejects who benefitted from the ballot fail to get popular support without the need of a fan page? Wouldn’t Marcos lose a second term without posting offensive online memes against his enemies?

To blame the current election results on the masses’ lack of access to communication platforms is myopic on the outset. It fails to realize the deeper relationship between power and the conditions that made it possible for u deserving scumbags to secure top-level posts.

The problem isn’t access to information but access to services that would have obliterated any need of tyrants and thieves and hedonists masquerading as messiahs.

Unless there is a radical program that puts the masses front and center, we would find ourselves taking part in the meaninglessness of voting, still choosing leaders who would gladly keep the masses servile and convince them the budots is what the country needs right now.