Noynoy Aquino’s Momentous Non-announcement

That was it?

After the surprising grace from Mar Roxas last night, Noynoy responds in what I could only describe as a buzzkill. And this evening revealed the fundamental weakness of Noynoy Aquino — his lack of charisma. But first let’s define some terms.

Charisma is an internal quality. It is an abstract combination of character, conviction, and confidence. Charisma is what allows you to believe another person because of the qualities and values he possesses; moreover, he is able to clearly and convincingly convey them to you. On the other hand, popularity is an external quality. It relies largely on the validation of others, and whether you do enough to earn that validation. While charisma is often innate, popularity is something that is subject to more revision and change. It goes with the temper of the times.

A successful politician requires both. However, to receive what Noynoy asks of us, he will need tons of charisma. Right now, he is merely (and dangerously) popular. Let me explain.

There is nothing wrong with what he said. As a matter of fact, he said all the right things. The problem was, he didn’t come across as convincing. I understand the need for more spiritual discernment, but that could work both ways. It can either show Noynoy as the devout son and a thinking anti-politico, or it can show Aquino as weak, indecisive, and unconfident. His performance titlted to the latter.

Take the following simple sentence from a recent campaign speech.

“This election is not about me. It’s about you.”

Very simple. Possibly cliche. Yet delivered by Barack Obama, it was powerful. Crushing, even.

The problem with Noynoy is that he’s taking a page out of the Obama playbook. He answered one press question brilliantly — with hardly any funds, how can you wage a traditional campaign?

His answered impressed me. It even had shades of the new politics we saw last night. Aquino said that the solution is simple: we don’t resort to a traditional campaign. He then cited the random acts of volunterism that inspired him to play a larger role — the tarpaulins, the uncommissioned surveys, the yellow shirt drives, and so on.

What he is after is a grassroots campaign built on the backs of ordinary people. I agree. That is precisely what we need. But a campaign such as this needs to be built. Yet seeing Noynoy fumble, stutter, and even squint at the page during his speech didn’t exactly inspire confidence. So am I to give my time, resources, and hopes to that person?

It is by no means an insurmountable weakness. During the campaign, his sister Kris alone can make up for his charisma deficit. But people will be voting for him. It is he who will be possibly governing. We need to vote Noynoy for who he is and not who we want him to be, because once he is in power we will rely on him to discern and decide for the good of the country. And to be able to do that, he will have to talk to us. He will need to explain his decisions, converse with us about policy, and keep our trust. I agree, results matter. But if Aquino really expects us to be with him as he works for change, then he will have to deliver more than just results. He will have to keep us believing and hoping, and this is something only a person of great charisma can deliver.

I am not looking for someone who has just charisma either. If I were I’d be voting for Estrada.

Some may suggest that his lack of charisma is actually a plus for Aquino. I cannot see how it is. We are a people who are easily dissatisfied with our rulers. We set an impossible standard for Noynoy Aquino and when he fails to meet those (as all our Presidents eventually will), then there will be forces that will hunger for his overthrow. True, that can always be avoided. For that he will need the people to stand by him, but I believe I’ve already made my point.

P.S.

Pardon if I have such high standards, but one problem of Philippine society is that we tend to settle for the mediocre. Puwede na raw ang puwede na. But no. Just enough should never be enough.

Truth is, I am inclined to vote for an Aquino-Roxas ticket, and it is for this reason that I expect more from them. If I come across as too scrutinizing and picky, it is only because I too am discerning my choice.

I recognize that I will never find everything that I am looking for in a candidate. I am looking for someone who can instigate reform from above — someone principled, honest, and firm — while inspiring a transformation from below through leadership by example. This is a high standard which no human can possibly match, so the least I should have when I cast my vote is some peace of mind. Of a slew of possibilities, I want to choose one I can live with. Sadly, voting for abstain does not appeal to me despite this. I want to have a legitimate say in how government is run.

I really am concerned for Noynoy’s lack of charisma. My greatest fear is that he, despite doing everything to the best of his abilities, will frustrate. Or maybe, I am just not giving our people enough credit. Perhaps the political culture has changed. Perhaps people will participate more in government. I really hope so.

I know that there is something I can do to help Noynoy in his campaign and even beyond. I just have to see him for what he is, and not just rely on my own aspirations of what he should be. If I will devote my time, resources, and talents to a candidate, it has to be someone I believe in personally. Trust takes time. And since I can’t meet Noynoy personally (yet), then I will have to filter and study everything that comes through the media.

Anyway, the campaign period for the Liberal Party has effectively begun. I will be watching very, very closely. I am one with everyone in our desire for change.

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6 Comments

  1. what will you do with too much charisma? look what happen to erap. the problem is, we want to see a perfect candidate out of noynoy. perfect. no more no less. squeeky clean. but it’s impossible, that kind of person don’t exist, how much more presidentiables!

    why don’t we just accept the next best thing? i will surely support noynoy.

  2. Are Values, Humility and Charisma enough to be a good president? Or is someone a better presidentiable than the others out there just because he/she is the son of someone who did good for our country? The other day walang pumapansin kay noynoy tapos nung namatay nanay nya ganto na? Tapos sa bandang huli mageedsa revo kayo? Ganto ba tlga magdesisyon mga pulitiko at sambayanan?

  3. hi martin. i sent you a message over on facebook. i met you through richard sitosta. he was your blockmate in english. may i know if you got the message? if not, may i know your email address? kindly get in touch with me through the e-mail address i provided in the field marked for it. thanks for your time.

  4. charlie, tell me why you will vote for noynoy? is it because of a lack of choice? one must not “settle” if you are voting for noynoy because the others do not deserve to be president then youre clearly missing the point… you vote someone for president because you think he will do a good job, not because he is the lesser of two evils… i learned that lesson when i voted for gloria…. i learned my lesson…. have you?

  5. To: Martin Perez, it is for you read to know Noynoy’s works more.

    Here’s what I learned about the senator. He is not a manic legislator who authors hundreds of inconsequential bills a year. He authored nine bills over two years in the Senate.

    The bills seem to show that the senator is committed to making democracy work for everyone. Two of them sought to improve the welfare of workers.

    Senate Bill 1370 grants “an annual productivity bonus for all workers in the private sector.”

    Senate Bill 2036 increases “the penalties for noncompliance of the prescribed increases and adjustments in the wage rates of workers.”

    Four of the senator’s bills are aimed at curtailing corruption.

    Senate Bill 2160, an amendment to the Government Reform Procurement Act, plugs loopholes that mega scams like the ZTE-NBN project and the CyberEd project slipped through. It’s a vaccine against deadly swine influence.

    Senate Bill 2035 is a bill requiring contractors “to handle the regular maintenance and preservation for public infrastructure after the end of the project.” A contractor who skimps on the construction phase of a public infrastructure project eventually pays for it in higher maintenance and repair costs.

    Senate Bill 2978 puts “parameters for the selection of PNP provincial directors and city/municipal chief of police for local government units” because personal discretion in law- enforcement matters is the root of corruption.

    Senate Bill 1710 bans “the reappointment of a regular member of the Judicial and Bar Council who has already served a full term.”

    Two of Noynoy’s bills address the checks and balance on the power of the Executive.

    Senate Bill 1719 limits “the reappointment of presidential nominees bypassed by the Commission on Appointments.”

    Senate Bill 3121, or the Budget Impoundment Control Act, strengthens the Legislature’s power over how the Executive spends appropriations.

    His bill on human rights would make commanders accountable for the actions of their subordinate officers. Senate Bill 2159 “adopts the doctrine of superior responsibility to all actions involving military personnel, members of the Philippine National Police and other civilians involved in law enforcement.”

    Noynoy’s nine bills address the welfare of workers, corruption, checks and balances on Executive power, and human rights. That’s not too shabby for a lucky sperm.

    Read the whole artcicle : http://noynoyaquino.com/just-a-lucky-sperm/#more-400

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