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Freedom to choose officials in government is a political right that not everyone in the world is fortunate enough to freely exercise. In many countries, including those by nomenclature are democratic but are really not by the standards we have come to know, the freedom to elect is enshrined in their organic laws, though the exercise of the same is other than free. And the results are often questionable as reflections of the true and genuine choice of the electors.
With the completion of the line-up of the two principal political parties in the United States contending for the two highest executive positions, the people should now have clearer idea of how the country will go forward, or backward, after January 20, 2021. That clear idea may present itself only through emotionally-untainted reasoning. Political party functionaries may not be able to do so as they are often blinded by their dedication.
“That clear idea may present itself only through emotionally-untainted reasoning. Political party functionaries may not be able to do so as they are often blinded by their dedication.”
For observant immigrants from most Asian countries, including the Philippines, that essentially permit freedoms of expression, the similarities in the conduct of the campaigns in their respective countries and in the United States are obvious. With the advances in the Internet, the highways to effective and widespread dissemination of information, whether genuinely true or germane fabricated lies, will almost be unhindered. The extent of the financial resources of the candidates and/or the political parties will be great determinants of the outcome of the election. Fundraising events will happen more often. Who gets whose supports, and how much, in fundraisers will suggest the outcome of the races and which direction the country will travel.
While the Internet has now become a favored means to reach out to more voters, the traditional means are still prevalent in most Asian countries, including the Philippines. The candidates’ campaign posters are pasted, stapled, or otherwise attached to almost every building, trees, electric posts, or any other structure, public or private. Their sizes vary, depending on the candidates’ ability and willingness to spend. After the election date, most of the posters remain where they have been attached. They remain there for months, even years, until natural forces remove them. Or they are used by the economically-challenged members of society for some other beneficial purposes. On day of election, supporters of the candidates gather near polling places conducting last minute campaigning and distributing flyers.
Here in the United States, posters are also employed but much less prevalently attached to edifices and trees. They are usually framed, in smaller sizes, and posted on the sides of the local roads. After the election date, most of these posters are removed. In this practice, the Philippines lags way behind. The difference is a result of attitude and values, among others.
“Are we going to decide on what is best for us as political party followers or what is equitable to many? Are we able to look beyond the pigment of the skin to decide rationally? Any catch phrase or campaign slogan that tend to prefer one color over another may get votes, but will not contribute to a lasting co-existence and the peace and order we all desire.”
More than the ways of campaigning that candidate is employing or will employ to gain voters’ nods, and the personalities of the candidates, three issues should influence the voters’ decision. For the ethnic minority voters in particular, the issues on immigration and racism should be given special considerations. The United States will continue to be a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society. Preference to one’s ethnic and racial background will remain a part of our lives, but racial bigotry should not. That preferential perception for one’s ethnic group has existed since human society existed.
“Where freedom of expression truly reigns, election gives us the choice, whatever it may be. Whatever happens becomes part of your doing. Blame no one else.”
We all know that who we decide to lead this country in the next four years will determine how we will have to live. Are we going to decide on what is best for us as political party followers or what is equitable to many? Are we able to look beyond the pigment of the skin to decide rationally? Any catch phrase or campaign slogan that tend to prefer one color over another may get votes, but will not contribute to a lasting co-existence and the peace and order we all desire. Adopting our political party’s or the candidates’ announced ideas without our discerning mind will not lead us to what could be the better decision we should make. We, of course, have the choice.
We have the luxury of choice. Where freedom of expression truly reigns, election gives us the choice, whatever it may be. Whatever happens becomes part of your doing. Blame no one else.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Manuel B. Quintal, ESQ., practices law in New York since 1989. He is active in the community as a member, an officer or a legal adviser of various professional, business, and not-for-profit organizations. He was a columnist of Newstar Philippines, an English language weekly newspaper published in New York, from 2006-2009. He was Executive Editor of International Tribune, an English language weekly newspaper for the Asian community, based in New York, from 2010 to 2012. He is admitted to practice law in the Philippines and New York State. He has graduate degrees in Political Science and an LL.M. major in International Law.