Every action or inaction teaches a lesson. Every event happening or intended to happen but did not materialize should make us discern the inherent course underlying it. However, not all of us can see it, understand it, or ignore or dismisses it.
Here are some of what we should see as lessons, if not reminders of lessons past, from the 2020 elections in the United States:
- Polls are not accurate measurements of winnability. The results of the 2016 presidential elections revealed this, and the 2020 presidential elections starkly confirmed this. Polls (surveys) based on opinions of small and selected segments of a targeted community that the pollsters believe will reflect the larger whole’s views. These opinions obtained mainly through telephone interviews and online surveys. The participants of these polls or surveys may not have the time and the patience to answer all questions and complete the interviews to get it done. Not all have the courage and tendency to reveal how they will vote. Between the poll-taking and the actual casting of votes, the wind blows and changes the mind’s inclinations. Everyone is entitled to change his or her mind. Anyone who does not change his decision when new credible data belies and trumps the information dictated his prior conviction may have developed a barrier resistant to new and better ideas.
- Political alliances or associations weaken when they do not advance personal interests. Joining political parties and coalitions increases the chances of submitting any personal agenda of a candidate. In exchange for that desired increased chances towards success, a candidate may have to give up some of his plans or agree to a watered-down version of it to conform with the stated party doctrines. When the candidate for president becomes less popular, the lower offices’ candidates tend to distance themselves from him. They do not want to be associated or identified with whatever the candidate for president stands for. Loyalty to the party terminates when it conflicts with personal political ambition. As is often said in politics, no permanent friends, only permanent self-interests.
- Features of isms can co-exist to serve the more significant number. For governments’ need and existence can only be justified if it continued to serve its intended purpose. People, particularly candidates for public offices, tend to simplify the different aspects of political, social, and economic theories to appeal to the emotions of certain fanatical groups of people in the country. It is the practice of specific individuals or groups to label another as “communists,” “socialists,” “fascists,” “liberals,” “republicans,” “democrats,” “dictators,” generally, and assuming that the audience to whom they are addressing or appealing have the same concept or idea as they do. Perhaps, the purpose is to divert and direct the audience to decide based on whatever little unfavorable belief they have about the particular label. Of course, it is too much to expect the candidates to educate the audience, for their primary objective is to get the votes and win.
American society presents a graphical co-existence and harmonious mingling of the ideas that some individuals or groups detest and co-opting others to hate. The democratic-republican government system that the framers of the constitution envisioned continues to exist today and will continue to exist, despite fears of some to the contrary. The maturity and diversity of the population will ensure this. The results of the 2020 elections and previous elections have consistently proved that the people do not want a change in that government’s form but rather changes in specific policies or programs to address current issues. The social security system, public housing, and other social benefit programs may be socialistic or communistic ideas. But they make this country a socialist or communist government. Neither do restriction on capitalist ventures or imposition of higher taxes to specific sectors of society. A president who demands the adoption or implementation of specific laws that may seem overly restrictive of our freedoms does not become fascist or dictatorial, for his authority restricted by statute and checked or controlled by the other branches of government.
That fact is that no government in the world today will fall strictly and entirely under the labels we have used in the recent elections. We tend to consider a government or country as imperfect and undesirable based on the brand we have assigned to it, ignoring or forgetting that promoting the government’s worth should be judged by common welfare. Policies and programs that may not be typical and accepted features of the democratic-republican government system as we have known it welcomes the general interest promotion.
Where elections generally considered free and honest, the availability of millions to support a campaign and to purchase political ads on radio, television, and the internet does not guarantee to win. Avid supporters spent millions of dollars from personal wealth and contributions in the recent elections. Yet not all those who had the most campaign funds ended up winning the position they aspire”
- Compromise for the common welfare is always advisable, if not required. The houses of Congress will probably have majorities from the opposing political parties. In a country where free and honest elections exist, situations like this are likely to happen repeatedly. And it happened throughout history. Thus, the doctrines and government programs espoused by one party will not see the light of day if there is no compromise. The parties have to give up something to win the backing of the other. Assuming that a political party controls all government branches, there are compromises between and among the members of such parties. It is true in politics, as it is right in personal relationships.
- We cannot win all the time. Anyone who claims to have not lost in any endeavor, business or otherwise, must accept defeat, especially when deciding to run for public office. Some leaders are removed or not re-elected. But yet are returned or elected in the future because they or their ideas have become relevant again. The usefulness of a politician or his opinions depends upon the needs of the time. In times of war, a military leader or one astute in the art of warfare may be the answer; in times of economic destruction, an expert on the economy may be the leader of choice. In all situations, a leader who listens to those who know the problems at hand will be the choice we want. None of us are experts on all things, and therefore, it is wise to involve those who are.
- Financial capacity alone does not result in winning. Where elections generally considered free and honest, the availability of millions to support a campaign and to purchase political ads on radio, television, and the internet does not guarantee to win. Avid supporters spent millions of dollars from personal wealth and contributions in the recent elections. Yet not all those who had the most campaign funds ended up winning the position they aspire. Maybe this shows that the electors still prefer to have personal and direct communication with the candidates. A house-to-house campaign, possibly, if practicable.
- Candidates tend to exaggerate the faults of their opponents and hide their own. That is the way it is and will always be. Candidates tend to speak in hyperboles, especially regarding what they have done or plan to do. It is for the electors to decide which are exaggerations, practicable, achievable, or accurate.
These lessons or reminders of lessons we have previously learned will re-occur in elections in the future. It is best to remember and heed them.
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.