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Party people

Political parties are everywhere in this country and now that the election season is on the horizon once again, many of these Machiavellian alliances that are driven by personal and selfish interests will be renewed or broken after being tested in the same crucibles that forged them during the last elections.

If there is one thing that defines a political party in this country, it is the common lust for power. I haven’t bothered signing up to join one because I have never needed campaign funds, but from what I have seen over the course of my life, such groups have neither guiding principles nor morals. It is all about the money and the power that it can buy, so for the average Filipino politician, their affiliation to a political party is simply a means to an end.

In this country, political parties exist so politicos can amass funds and consolidate support for their expensive and logistically challenging campaigns. If I’m not mistaken, the ones recognized by the Comelec have the luxury of having representation during the critical vote counting period. A political party is a government-approved gang whose primary purpose in life is to collectively wield as much power as possible during that short period that they are still together, during that short window when their selfish interests align and compromises can still be negotiated when conflicts occur.

In a multi-party country like the Philippines, anyone who has the resources can form his own party or buy one. The more cunning will worm their way into one, undermine the current leadership, and eventually take over.

What is notable here is that there are probably no standards or requirements for forming a political party. As long there are enough people with enough money, they can call themselves whatever they want. Guiding principles, platforms and other unnecessary intangibles are not necessary for parties. That’s why it is called a party, not a prayer meeting.

Political parties get a bad rep because we perceive most of them exist only to serve the interest of trapos. But there is a flip side to them that can also be exploited by those who are sick of traditional political parties. Anyone can start a political party and if the right mix of people and principles can get together, there is a chance that these traditional political parties can be challenged by new and disruptive ones that regular folk can actually be invested in.

Our distrust of political parties runs deep and even if I found one that aligned with my values and principles, it would still take a lot before I can fully get behind any group of politicians. It would take even a lot more for someone like me to donate to their party.

However, enduring the past few years of governance characterized by constantly uncouth mediocrity has probably forced more to reconsider our apathy and revulsion towards the political parties. Maybe it is time for us to be more involved when with politics, politicians and their parties because as Thomas Jefferson said “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

As we have seen from past disappointments, we can’t just vote during elections and consider our job done. If we don’t want a bad leader or dynasty to keep coming back or if we want a certain candidate to take over, we will need to be more involved. Talking to people in our circles of influence might help on a personal level but it cannot be change anything unless those actions are consolidated and scaled up. The conundrum here is when that happens, the merged individual actions inevitably becomes some form of a political party, turning into the same thing we hated in the first place.

Those who want to change a system must work within it and that is why we have to conquer our revulsion to politics if we want to be in a position to make that change. There are surely ways that a better political party can be run and managed to ensure that it sticks to its principles and truly represents the will of its members. The time to get started on this project is now and although it won’t affect next year’s elections yet, it is still something we have to do for the next generation.

So…who wants to party?*

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September 2021
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