It’s a term that has been bandied about a lot these days but it seems the concept of track record and public servants is a concept that Filipinos haven’t really taken the time to understand.
The thing with track record is that unlike a criminal record, there is no standard way of quantifying or verifying the things a public servant or a candidate has supposedly done to deserve consideration for our votes come election time.
However, if you come to think of it, the key word would be the candidate’s ability to come up with a “record” of their achievements and advocacies that voters can look into and verify. In an ideal world, candidates that do not have a verifiable track record (currently referred to as recibo or receipts) should be made to go through more intense scrutiny by discerning voters.
The sad truth and the biggest flaw of a democracy is that anyone can run for office and voters have not been given any standards or system to use when choosing from prospective candidates. Democracy works on the assumption that only those who are qualified and have good intentions will seek office and voters have standards and values. The past few elections has shown us that neither is the case, so the curse of low quality candidates and voters with low standards continues to plague most countries that like to call themselves democracies.
Because our constitution allows essentially anyone to run, from university dropouts to tax evaders and even government officials charged with plunder, it is basically up to the voter to choose wisely and our best tool for that should be an investigation into a candidate’s track record.
A person’s track record starts from their schooling. Honor students and student leaders should normally rank candidates higher in our lists but our standards have recently slipped so low that many of us don’t even care if a candidate has the mental capacity to earn a university degree anymore.
However, since the world of academia is a totally different from the real world, there are times when those who don’t excel in school hit their stride and do exceptionally well outside of it. Notable exceptions are Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, known university dropouts who harnessed their talents, tenacity and hard work to build mega businesses. These people have track records too and if such people seek public office, such exceptional achievements must definitely count in their favor. The problem with people like them is that many loser dropouts who haven’t done anything exceptional in their entire lives but are blessed with the gift of name recall, use these exceptions to the rule as excuses for their failure to do anything special with their lives. If we fall back to the simple standard of a verifiable track record, we should be able to see who are qualified and who are not when it comes to taking care of our communities, country and our future.
If a candidate was not able to earn a simple university degree, what did they do with their life and why should we give them our vote and our trust? If there is no track record, then there are most probably better candidates out there.
But because we live in a democracy, there are times when sheer luck, name recall, or tenacity can get a person into public office and the country lucks out when they somehow end up being good at the job. If that happens, the best way to quantify whether a good job was done or not is through their track record. A mediocre mayor, governor, congressman or senator should have an unimpressive track record. This is easy to find because if you try to look for a track record, you will probably be unable to find one. And yet, many of us continue to vote many of these minimum-compliance public servants back into office simply because they were able to snag an electoral position one time. The power of the incumbent, whether they have a good track record or not, is one of the things that holds our nation and our struggling communities down.
In a world where information is at our fingertips, researching a candidate’s track record should be easier. My biggest tip when it comes to such research is that if you can find a good track record, then it is probably better to vote for someone else with a better one. Don’t fall for propaganda or slogans or outright lies. Look for records and receipts and compare your candidates before casting that vote.*