Vox populi

Last Sunday, a columnist from the Philippine Star wrote:

"I disown the belief that vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God.) If some of my Sigaw friends used the slogan, I am averse to such presumptions. This debate takes off from the widespread but false idea that this is how democracy works. It claims that democracy is morally right because the majority defines what is right and the government must follow the will of the people. "

Everyone, of course, has the right to his or her own opinion on this. The statement was made in a different context but I'd like to focus on such and tie it up with the main theme of this blog. The reason why the majority is given the right to decide is not because they are actually right but that they are given that presumption that they may be right because no other methodology has been devised to replace the majority rule. As Churchill would say, democracy may be flawed but it's the best we could come with so far. [In the context of the "People's Initiative" issue, one fundamental question before the Supreme Court is not whether the will of the people is to be questioned but whether the will of the people is actually properly being heard. Justice Guttierez's comment on the matter sums it best]

It speaks of the presumptiousness of the elite that they believe they know what's best for the people. That the masses would not have the intelligence to form their own opinion knowingly. If the majority of the people truly (emphasize "truly") believe that this country should go in a particular direction then - right or wrong - that is where we go. It may not be right, it may be based on faulty information or lack thereof but then the people should be allowed to determine their own destiny. Besides, who of us can say conclusively, who of us can argue with perfect knowlege and information, that such decision by the people is indeed wrong? Only time (and history) can tell. Or we can even go Biblical on this: "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all". In any event, what can kind of leaders do we have if they don't have faith in their own people?

The rich has this belief that the people, the masses, should be saved from themselves and their ignorance, and thus a disregard of the vox populi dictum should be made because of that belief that the rich (the governing elite) are indeed the ones well read enough, informed enough, educated enough, to make the decisions for us. However, that is rubbish because if that were correct, considering that the Philippine elite has been in power continuously for almost the entire life of this Republic, we'd be a country right now economically at par with Singapore or Japan. It's this country's elite that got us in this mess and they still expect all of us to believe that they should be leading this country by sheer entitlement?

If the masses toy with the idea of electing actors and entertainers to political office it is because they are no longer left with a viable choice. Who are they going to elect, after all? Return the same old political names, albeit their younger versions, to power? If one reads our history from the 1920's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, early 70's, late 80's, and the late 90's upward you'd be surprised at how the same names keep cropping up as office holders in Congress, the Judiciary, and the Executive Branch (and even media). And how the same problems keep plaguing us: corruption and inefficiency. And they expect us to believe that it is the ordinary Juan de la Cruz at fault? I strongly believe that the majority of Filipinos would know, consciously or instinctively, and vote for a good and effective leader when they see one. It's just that they haven't seen one yet.

I still refer readers to my entry below on Trade and the Elite regarding this matter. In addition, I am getting more and more convinced that the Marcos/Ninoy, Erap/GMA thing was simply a case of relatively "newer old money" versus really "old money". It's a perverse political rigodon. If it were really about democracy how come after all the People Powers that came and went we're still in this muck of corruption and ineptness? You can't blame the masses for this. Blame the people in power. And the people in power are all essentially cut from the same clothe.

Also, just thinking, I still can't understand what is meant by the term "good family" or "de buena familia". It may mean something long ago, in less civilized times, but in this day and age what possible meaning could it have? After all, if you don't have any druggie, pervert, or thief (private or in government) in your family, and if your family members study in school or actually work for a living and care for the family, wouldn't that make your family automatically qualify as a "good family"?