01 October 2012

Politics Simplified for Citizen Voters

The evening news was inevitably filled with reports on the filing of Certificates of Candidacies by political wannabes to formally usher in the coming election season, if for no other reason than the voting public finally gets to know who runs and who does not in next year’s elections. In other words, citizens if they care to may begin to examine those who will be running for public offices to ascertain who, in their respective opinions, deserve to be voted into public offices.

This is a good time, therefore, to educate anybody who cares – be he a citizen voter or a candidate, given the tendency in this nation of every Tom, Dick and Harry to run for public office – about the intricacies of this thing called politics.

First of all, stripped bare of the complications that people themselves invariably attach to the process – and more so in this country – there is really nothing complicated about this thing called politics.


When the lines between political parties are blurred in the way that they are expressed by parties and individual candidates in a multi-party system such as that in place in the Philippines, then this thing called the political platform takes greater significance.
Political Science books will define the word merely as the act of collective bargaining between people.

This bargaining is primarily on issues pertaining to governance; and in particular on the methods with which the people may be governed for the betterment of the State – including, of course, the people themselves.

The means to governance, ideally, ought to flow from a political ideology, a set of core principles and philosophies upon which acts of governance – in a perfect world – are to be based in attempts to achieve political and governmental goals.

All political ideologies may be categorically reduced to just two basic types: conservative and liberal.

Conservative politics, to oversimplify, are philosophies that seek to preserve or keep the status quo; or the way things exist in a given moment in time.

Opposite to conservative politics, liberal philosophies seek to remove the status quo; in other words, to put into effect change or to change the way that things are in a given moment.

Political parties are formal organisations of people who share the same political ideals. Because these parties are structured and organised, they have mechanisms and funding in place for selecting their candidates and supporting their campaign efforts.

For a bi-party system such as that which is in place in the United States, it is easy for citizens to ascertain which party wishes to preserve the status quo and which one is in favour of effecting change. The Republicans are the conservatives; while the Democrats are the liberals.

How these parties interpret their conservatism and liberalism in terms of actual governmental programs cannot all be expounded on in one article.

In the Philippines, there exists a multi-party system; and hence, it becomes somewhat difficult for citizens to ascertain the conservatism or liberalism of each.

In such a system, the proliferation of political parties is due to the varying degrees with which each party’s ideologies propose to retain the status quo or effect change. Hence, the radical parties take the hard-line approach towards other ideologies; while the moderates are those whose minds are open to ideals being proposed by the other sides.

In the previous century, communists and fascists were examples of radicals at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

When the lines between political parties are blurred in the way that they are expressed by parties and individual candidates in a multi-party system such as that in place in the Philippines, then this thing called the political platform takes greater significance.

Through the platform, a party or candidate makes known positions on current and relevant political issues. The platform is frequently expressed by way of a formal manifesto which can then be examined by citizens as they strive to determine what sort of public servants they intend to vote into office.

Since politics is collective bargaining, the consensus ideally is arrived at – in a democracy – through the citizens’ exercise of the right to suffrage or the right to vote.

In voting candidates into a structured system of public offices, citizens give their mandate for the act of governance to be formalised into this institution called government.

The word politics is often used loosely within the context of governance in tyrannical or police states. Strictly speaking, since collective bargaining does not occur in such states, then neither does politics.

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