Leadership by default
GREAT performance. Generally well-crafted speech. Delirious cheering and applauding from the gallery. Good cast. Impressive PowerPoint presentation. Good measure of comic relief thrown in to break the ice. It can be argued that she was preaching to the choir. She was cocky at certain points, and awkward in some (was she interrupted by applause, or did she pause for one?). But at the end of it all, I just wanted to do a Cuba Gooding impersonation in that Jerry Maguire movie; I felt like hollering, “show me the money!!!”
The President premised her talking points on the phrase “we now have the money to…” What she seemed to have meant is that with the new tax measures and the intended stringent monitoring of tax collection efforts, we will have the money to fund all those ambitious projects. There is a significant difference between actually having the money and having the means to collect or produce that money. But I guess making that distinction would diminish the impact of the magic show as the President conjured all those wonderful plans and promises.
It is very tempting and a hell lot easier to be cynical and bitter. And the people who have patented the right to be so have, expectedly, already gone to town with their own dire predictions of doom and failure. As a blogger, I am immune to all kinds of diatribe and all manner of nitpicking. But even I was not prepared for the level of vitriol some people were spewing about the State-of-the-Nation Address. I guess too much resentment really does mess up one’s perspective about things so that all one can see is the muck and the grime on everyone else except the ones on themselves.
I do grant that the Sona was ambivalent on some issues and silent on many more. However, I think that the selection of talking points is the prerogative of the one delivering the speech. It is her Sona, for crying out loud.
But then again, this is still a democracy, so it is the right of critics to point out what else needs to be done and how and why. But there is a whole world of difference between nitpicking because you hate the person and therefore there is nothing good that you can see in that person and critique based on objective analysis of facts. There is a whole world of difference between proposing alternatives and simply shooting down ideas at random.
This is where the difference lies, and the sooner the opposition gets it, the better for all. The President, hated she may be as a person, presented a roadmap (both metaphorical and literal) to a future. That roadmap may be a mirage, that roadmap may be infeasible, but it cannot be disputed that roadmap is attractive. Should this government succeed in achieving even just half of those presented, the benefits to this country and its people can be tremendous. In a crisis, people follow leaders who can show them a way out; they do not bother with the moral questions no matter how important they may be.
In my book, an attractive roadmap and a promise to do better is a much better alternative to the whining and the griping and the blaming. It is sad that the opposition still does not get it. Up until Monday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was the only one out there. She is winning by default. We can all ridicule her, file as many impeachment cases against her, mock her, call her all unsavory and derogatory names—the indisputable fact will remain, she is the only one out there right now. And she knows it and that is why she can afford to cackle and be alternately condescending (“to those who want to pick up old fights, we’re game; but what a waste of time”) and magnanimous (“why don’t we join hands?”).
The challenge to the opposition is clear then: present an alternative to the people. Show us what and who you have. Unfortunately, it seems the best they can come up with is still Joseph Estrada.
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And speaking of alternatives, there is an ongoing debate being conducted in media between One Voice and Sigaw ng Bayan. And by the looks of it, it is getting more and more acrimonious by the day.
The debate began when One Voice called for the discontinuance of people’s initiative (which is being championed by Sigaw ng Bayan) because, “not only is it questionable as a genuine people’s initiative,” but is legally flawed and based on fallacious and deceptive reasoning as well.
Sigaw ng Bayan has countered with accusations that One Voice is elitist (it has since then upgraded the description to super-elite) and is advocating bankrupt ideas and cosmetic reforms.
Along the way, Sigaw ng Bayan has dropped allusions to the real source of the funding of One Voice, calling attention to the “slick” television spots that they say costs P252 million.
An exchange of ideas, particularly on such an important and critical issue as Charter Change, should be a good thing because it should hopefully lead to a more enlightened citizenry. However, when the debate becomes personal and is reduced to a heckling contest, it can only spell trouble. And it looks like it has on this one.
One Voice advocates have taken to heckling the people’s initiative camp as “Singaw ng Bayan.” On the other hand, Sigaw ng Bayan has trundled such hackneyed accusations as “oligarchs,” “bankrupt” and “shallow.” In some blogs, the name calling has run the whole gamut of adjectives one cannot repeat in polite company.
I hope both groups stop the senseless trading of barbs and focus on the more important task at hand, which is to convince more and more people about the value of their advocacy.
Both Sigaw ng Bayan and One Voice must remember that the decision is not theirs to make. Both groups are simply making a pitch to the people, and rather than shooting each other down, I think it is better to focus on why their proposal is the better alternative.
Guys, leave the mudslinging to the politicians. We have more than enough of them already.