4/30/2019
Hyperpartisan

There are less than two weeks to the election. I guess it's time I admit something: I haven't been paying attention.

Well, this time I can use the "I've been busy" reason. Even when I drop something that's been a surprising source of fulfillment for the past few years, I can never seem to have enough time - and when I do have a few snatches of idleness I end up going, "why am I being lazy?" It's a weird thing, burnout, or being eternally on the edge of it: you know you should rest, but you're not happy when you are, because you're so used to being worked to death.

But then - and this will disappoint some of you - I really just don't see the point of devoting so much of my time to figuring out who I should vote for. And I'm not saying this because we're voting for legislators rather than a president. It's just, well, what is the point, really?

Don't get me wrong. I still intend to vote, even if we're all being crammed into one small elementary school campus, never mind a bunch of others popping up nearer to my house - I'm sure an argument can be made about how this is voter suppression, how it's such a hassle to vote, that only those who have an incentive to go through all that do so. And it's not like I have totally disconnected myself from what's going on in politics today, even though I haven't been watching the news as often as I did. Arguably, my work means I'm more keenly aware, and I have a slightly different prism with which I look through things. And, well, it's all lip service until it really happens.

But perhaps that's me being cynical, and apparently being cynical is an attitude you should not espouse when, as some of you put it, the future of the country is on the line. I remember the last time I did Shale Campaigns - that blog I did about my university's student elections, if you're new here - I said something about how, with a few exceptions, the parties all say the same thing over and over again, and it's all an exercise in boosting those who run for their post-college lives. Someone told me, "why are you so cynical about this?"

Well, in that case, I have been on both sides of the coin. I've been immersed in the political experience - as much as I can be immersed, at least - when I was a student whose vote they wanted to have. I've also been outside of the whole circus, as a person toiling away in a thankless and ultimately insecure job. Most of my friends who did run are now working outside of the country, living charmed lives. You can't not make the connection, especially if you're not feeling good about yourself.

In this case, well, I've also been on both sides of the coin. I've been disappointed - to put it lightly - with the showmanship that inherently comes with politics. I've also seen, at least partly, how government works, with my dealings with government agencies at the executive level, with talking to some of those politicians I have gotten angry with, even, in this blog. I've learned that there's a definite disconnect with what politicians say - and they will say anything as long as it makes them good - and what really goes on behind the scenes, and by that I don't mean the politician's staffers, but those implementing the policies, or even those making the recommendations that shift such policies. Most are honest workers. Some are respected in their fields of expertise. Some have good ideas. It's the need to look good to those that want to look good that hold them back.

For the past few weeks, that exercise in marketing has been going on. Well, years, if you think of how many billboards of Bong Go has showed up before he finally admitted he'll run for senator - and on a flimsy platform of "I will support the president on anything".

But that's the thing. Yes, it's long been not about what they stand for but who they are, but it's reached weird highs this time around. You don't just form a team that makes identifying who's with the administration and who's with the opposition easy. It's now Avengers-levels of saving the world, or at least your definition of the world. It all really started with Noynoy Aquino insisting he and his friends are out to prevent the dark forces of evil from returning. It's just something Rodrigo Duterte continued, when it became clear a lot of people thought Noynoy himself is a dark force of evil (aided, of course, by all that shit happening online).

Now, the campaign has been boiled down to its simplest elements: the good side - as defined by those in power - or the bad side? Duterte's side isn't even trying to bait those who are in the fence about how they're doing. I mean, setting aside the years-long campaign to have him elected senator, what exactly makes Bong Go qualified? And Otso Diretso - let's face it; they will be crushed in two weeks' time. They've been an ineffective opposition, and their pleas for decency isn't flying when the prevailing mindset is that decency covers up corruption. And we have a motley crew of has-beens who want another show at a piggy bank. I live in Bong Revilla territory, after all, at least for now.

Even worse, this has bled out to how we're supposed to talk about who to vote for. My social media feeds are filled with PR-driven soundbites - and that's not just on the Duterte side. Facebook has determined, for some reason, that I should see more posts from critics of this president, even if I'm also critical of the last one; that means I'm seeing more talking points from this ineffective opposition, all cloaked in a shroud of supposedly being more smart than those idiots on the fistbump emoji's side. I want to unfollow them more than I want to unfollow my cousin whose fanatical support for Duterte is really his way of telling the world his life isn't a failure.

I'm still voting on election day. I'll still make that long trip. But more and more, it feels voting is a hyperpartisan affair, whether you're the politician or just a supporter. What's the point? I mean, apart from being able to say I've done my part, before I return to work to actually keep the economy afloat.

And your responses...

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