Against Status

In my ideal world, people would vote politicians according to their abilities, achievements, ideals and goals. Names would be hidden as well as faces. There would be no catchy slogans and no interesting write-ups. Everything would be laid out as plainly as possible: Graduate of this degree from this school, passed that bill during a previous term, believes in such and such, and plans to achieve these things when sworn into office.

Of course, that’s likely never going to happen. How did democracy become a popularity contest? But let’s leave that question to be answered by the historian.

The Filipino must stop thinking in terms of status and instead think in terms of greatness.

I wonder how many of those who go into politics decide to do so according to the goals they have in mind for the country. Of course, it’s easy to enumerate a list of desirable but vague goals: more work opportunities, better economy, more food on the table, healthy children, happy families, and so on. But do those goals give the politician a thrill like the kind a fashionista gets when she imagines holding her dream bag, or when an athlete hopes for an Olympic gold?

It’s easy for one’s heart to swell with pride when thinking of how many citizens one has helped. Mr. Politico will say “I love the people, and the people love me back. Whoopee! I look forward to my face on a poster and my name on a plaque. This is not pride. I deserve praise for what I have done for the people. Eventually, my face will be on a peso bill and my name will replace the previous ‘whoever-you-are’ on a street. My family name will be famous and my descendants will ride that wave at least as long as people remember. At the very least, history will remember me and depending on what I have accomplished, school children will be required to remember my name.”

I wonder, if politicians never receive any public praise, if only those who have worked with them can know of their achievements, how many wannabes will drop and seek status elsewhere.

I want vision. I want greatness. I want someone who gets a thrill when he thinks of ideals like economic stability, equal opportunity and quality education. I want someone who gets excited by actual achievement instead of the potential praise.

If you’re this person, please stand up and make yourself known. Ok, you’ll probably still have to do your little dance to your catchy slogan in public, but in private you’ll dream of greatness and that’s what’s going to push you on.


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