I want to see the silver lining in this super-acrimonious election campaigning reaching fever-pitch levels. It's getting harder and harder as I find it more and more difficult to read social media posts of friends without raising my eyebrows, rolling my eyes or cringing. But I will still try.
With so many presidential candidates to choose from, it is still anybody's guess. I sometimes think of the simplicity of a two-(dominant)-party system, just like in the US. One aligns with a party idealogy first. Then the party chooses its standard bearer. And that process could be just as bitter and dirty. But eventually, the electorate will settle with the two major candidates slugging it out.
But this is not the case for the Philippines, of course. Our political-economic circumstances somehow prevent clear idealogical battle lines as basis for party-building. So we have all these parties with no clear party stand on anything. But instead of sighing, perhaps there is something good to be said about this current state we are in.
My bold, maybe naive, conclusion: the plurality of choices is raising political consciousness of the majority. With no clear black and white choices, the masses have started to think for themselves. I think that in previous years, the majority of the electorate (more rural than urban, more of the have-nots and have-less) are confined to just 'going with the flow'. They vote based on personalities, on the choices of their leaders, religious or otherwise.
But now, I hear of people truly debating one another on a political plane. More people are thinking for themselves about their choices. More people are starting to choose based on considering the impact of political outcomes on their lives.
Do I want a president who will solve the problem of crime I fear most about? Who is talking about my family starving in the drying rice fields? Who will change the circumstances of traffic in the Metro to allow me to go to work on time? Who will make sure that my children will have equal opportunities when looking for jobs?
People have started to think for themselves. Despite all the hurtful, hateful things being said now, I see this as progress.
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