The following are excerpts from Randy David’s February 11 article “Why movie actors get elected”. I firmly believe that the myth of movie actors instantly winning elections is about to be shattered. Cesar and Goma are running a longer, harder race than Erap, Lapid, Poe et al did.
Even the Pacman’s bid was not met with optimism (read “The Fall of Manny Pacquiao”).
So I say let these actors run. Their loss will send the message.
And if they win? That’s democracy for you. (I always find it ironic that we value freedom when we hardly know what it really means.)
Randy David writes (with my emphasis),
It is important to understand where this moral code of the average Filipino voter is coming from. It proceeds from the belief that little people in a highly unequal society are invisible and cannot be heard. Their plight has to be championed by individuals who can see them and can empathize with their powerlessness. These are the movie actors who, through the films they make, bolster the little people’s will to live. To the latter, the movie actors are more real than the politicians who make empty promises and treat them like children. Government is too remote from them; they seek the familiar to help them access the services they think are reserved only to those with influence.
It is obvious that they look at government as nothing more than a source of benefits, and at public officials as primarily the bearers of these benefits…
In such a world, intelligence and experience or competence in statecraft are of little value. The virtues that matter are generosity, approachability, and a strong sense of empathy. It is the latter that they associate most with their movie heroes…
This too is a form of rationality. It is neither blind nor passive. The poor who vote for movie actors are not lost in adulation; their eyes are as open as those of the educated. They invest trust, and they expect to be able to collect on their investment. It is futile to remind them that the work of a senator is to craft laws and to debate national policies, rather than to serve as a funnel for doles. For the fact is, the great majority of our legislators today measure their usefulness by the amount of projects they bring to their constituents rather than by the quality of their interventions on the congressional floor.
For as long as politics in our country feeds on the deprivation of the poor, and for as long as the basic needs of our people are coursed through a feudal system of patronage run by politicians, we will continue to have voters in search of champions. In the Philippines, we pick them from the ranks of movie actors, TV celebrities, and athletes—a solid testimony to the power of television. In other countries, the poor turn to fundamentalist religious leaders.
Read how the article ends here. Good stuff.