Sunday, May 16, 2004

Yet another Philosophy essay... hope you like it! :)

The Political Tao

“The best (rulers) are those whose existence is (merely) known by the people.
The next best are those who are loved and praised.
The next are those who are feared.
And the next are those who are despised.
It is only when one does not have enough faith in others that others will have no faith in him.
[The great rulers] value their words highly.

- Lao Tzu, the Tao-Te Ching (Chapter 17)

A week ago, the Philippines excercised its democratic power once again to hold the National Elections to determine the next, though not necessarily new, crop of leaders to run this country. The most prominent political race among the positions available for elections was quite obviously the one for the presidency. It was clearly marked by the emergence of six different candidates, all of them with their respective reasons to solicit the vote of the Filipino people. What I wish to do is to analyze each political candidate given the criteria of the Tao.

The least significant of these candidates was clearly Eddie Gil, an alleged businessman whose main platform was to promise “one million pesos to every Filipino” if he were to win. His inane platform was clearly not going to get him anywhere. On the scale of Lao Tzu, he is not even known, loved, feared, or despised. He is simply laughed at. I’m inclined to believe that Eddie Gil is completely out of the running in this respect. We have no idea how he intends to govern, but at this point, and since he is already disqualified, we don’t need to know anymore. Needless to say, considering Eddie Gil’s presidential chances would be a waste of time, so we don’t need to devote a single more paragraph to him...

Fernando Poe Jr. is arguably the most well-loved presidential candidate since the deposed former president Joseph Estrada. Despite that, his clear political inexperience and even administrative incompetence haunts him to the point that he really cannot be guaranteed entrance into Malacanang. While Taoism promotes Wu Wei or non-doing, while Taoism promotes cultivated ignorance, it is clear that innate ignorance and non-doing by incompetence does not make one govern well through non-governing. Yes, FPJ is well-loved among the masses, but he clearly cannot govern well by non-governing, especially if he were to delegate his powers to the dreaded triumvirate of Maceda, Sotto, and Angara. While he is well-loved by the masses, people can and will also fear or despise him. People such as myself. Are there people who just know him to be a leader? No, there aren’t. People know Fernando Poe Jr. not as a leader, but as an actor.

In contrast, there is nobody who can say that Ping Lacson is simply well-loved, or if his being a leader is simply a taken-for-granted fact. Ping Lacson’s fans and detractors are so polarized that there’s little room in between. Ping Lacson generates both fear and hatred for him, although the fear he generates was actually his main asset towards his candidacy, because some Filipinos recognize a severe dearth of discipline among the Filipino people. The fact of the matter is, he realizes that he cannot win over people by being charismatic, but by promoting a kind of governance that can be seen through ruling with an iron fist. It’s all about control. On the scale of great leaders, the fear and hatred he generates is certainly not telling of his quality as a leader. On the scale of governing by non-governing, his extremely hands-on approach would simply be detrimental to the Taoist sensibility.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is even more polarized as a leader. She is one who actually contains all levels of mere recognition, love, fear, and hatred. I’m inclined to believe that few people thrive on merely recognizing GMA’s leadership and are more likely to form some sentiment towards it, whether it be liking her approach, or outright disliking it. At the same time, we cannot seem to discount the fact that GMA, nearing the end of her first term (Assuming there will be a second.), started doing so much, so soon, just so she would win the people over. This involved medicards, huge housing projects, extensive media coverage, all telling us that GMA is anything but a “non-governing” leader. She has no trust in the Filipino people, and as such, is inclined to do everything for them. Her motivation for doing things is clearly for her own gain. On the realm of Taoism, Kant, and Aristotle, she falls flat as a leader.

Raul Roco is well-loved, no doubt about it. His detractors, though few, tend to hate him less than fear him. Roco is too benign to be feared, but too uncompromising to not be hated by those who do not see eye to eye with him. A lot of people just take his being a leader as a fact-for-granted, which puts him pretty high up in the Taoist measure. His method of governance appears to be pretty hands-on, as he does not seem to have much faith in the Filipino people at this point, but he is clearly banking on education as a means to eventual non-governance, which, if achieved, is actually quite a good idea. However, outside of the Taoist criteria, his health problems do pose quite a quandary as to whether or not he can achieve any of his objectives. Roco is an extremely good leader. He closely matches the Taoist sensibilities, save for his style of governance, but his health concerns are simply too great to be simply ignored.

Lastly, we have Brother Eddie Villanueva. This is the one person whom I’ve been pushing for throughout the election period as soon as I began to see things his way. Some people love him, but most people who wanted to vote for him didn’t vote for him because he was well-loved or praised, but because they merely knew him to be a leader who can get the job done. I call it this way because most people who voted for him are not even members of the JIL movement, and even do not see eye to eye with him on his religious beliefs. In spite of that, they recognize him to be a leader they can believe in, because he also believes in the Filipino people. His slogan says it all: Babangon ang Pilipinas. Maniwala ka. He doesn’t intend to do it all for the Filipino people. He believes. As such, he will simply do what he needs to do, and not have to do absolutely nothing, rule with an iron fist, or do it all for the people. This, to me, is proof that Bro. Eddie can simply be the best leader under the Taoist criteria.

This election period is clearly one of the most intriguing exercises of democracy ever. The volatility that is inevitable with the different temperaments, styles, and principles the candidates have is clearly telling us how difficult it could be to find one candidate who embodies everything we want in an ideal. As such, many people tend to considerate more than one candidate to vote for. They would know exactly who they are not voting for, but they have no idea who they want to actually vote for. Perfectly understandable, if you consider the need to vote strategically.

This kind of strategic voting explains why so many people who believed in a Bro. Eddie or a Raul Roco ended up voting for a GMA, because of their desire for the “lesser evil” who can actually win over FPJ. These are, after all, valid real-world considerations. We cannot deny that they significantly impact how people vote.

If the candidates were clean, a non-Taoist would simply choose Lacson over anyone else because his intentions of ruling with an iron fist can remind us how well that worked for Singapore. Look where that country is now. A Taoist would be most likely to vote for Bro. Eddie or Raul Roco. In a world of clean candidates, there is no room to choose a GMA (Who, while is willing to do everything, has no idea how to handle the people under her.), and no room for an FPJ either (He has no idea how to run the country except with his god intentions. That’s that.). It would only be a toss-up between Lacson, Roco, and Villanueva.

But you see, this isn’t an ideal world, but we can still vote with the ideal in our mind. With that being said, Lacson is clearly out. How can a man who lacks integrity promise discipline and integrity to this country? He has a very horrible record that includes allegations of murder. Such accusations cannot go by ignored, even if they may have been criminals whom he allegedly rubbed out.

That leaves us with Roco and Eddie Villanueva, who, in my personal opinion, are equally wise choices. Unfortunately, Roco has health considerations.

And that explains precisely why I believe in Bro. Eddie Villanueva, regardless if he wins or not. For a short-lived moment as well, with each single sticker or poster of his that I saw, knowing that whoever had it bought it out of his own pocket without it being given to them, I likewise believed in the Filipino people as much as Bro. Eddie did himself.

But we know what happened next. Perhaps there simply are some kinds of people who have so completely abandoned the Tao that we can no longer expect to have faith in them?

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