5/10/2019
You do not have this in the bag

My social media feeds have been filled with results of mock polls, conducted in major universities. I have the feeling they're sharing those posts as, err, incontrovertible evidence that, come Monday, the opposition slate will win most of the twelve Senate seats up for grabs this time around.

Err, no.

I'm no armchair analyst. I've gotten these things very wrong - I actually predicted Jojo Binay would become president. (Remember him?) But setting aside the surveys that are supposedly just one branch of a massive campaign to condition people into thinking the administration's bets are a shoo-in for the win, there really is little chance for the opposition slate to win. Maybe one, two if they're lucky. But it's not going to be otso diretso at all.

Why this is the case, it's quite difficult to pin down, at least pin down on one thing. Yes, the administration and its supporters have kept up the narrative that the "yellows" are the sole reason for this country not taking off - the truth, of course, is far more complicated than that, but don't we love a convenient narrative where we can identify the heroes and the villains? It's basic image management. It's how Noynoy Aquino rallied his supporters behind him; it's how Rodrigo Duterte is rallying his supporters behind him. Say, out loud, that they're the evil ones and you're out to defeat them, and say it often, and it becomes widely accepted fact.

It also didn't help that the opposition decided to embrace civility as their defining value. For one, it's a bit hypocritical considering how Noynoy blasted his critics like a petulant child, even when the issues swirling around him were clearly in defiance of his anti-corruption posturing. (A yellow ribbon can only go so far.) Also, yes, they were consciously being a counterweight to Duterte's brash, unfiltered image, but those critical of him were demanding that they stand up and be a forceful presence, too. End result: an opposition that's lame, a spent force, powerless against the return of all those figures from past political upheavals, condemned then, saying hello once again, wanting a slice of the pie back.

But, again, you wouldn't see that when you look at the posts of your friends who are of that persuasion. The hyperpartisan of the bunch would suggest that the opposition is alive and well, and that come Monday, they will overwhelmingly (is eight out of twelve overwhelming?) win the senatorial polls and keep this branch of government just a little more independent. Look, celebrities are endorsing "woke lolo"! Look, the mock polls in universities show they're going to win! And so they agree with each other, and so they believe each other.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you could call it that, the hyperpartisan supporters of the administration are also agreeing amongst themselves. They're winning. It's inevitable. Who would want to go back to a time when that retard pocketed our money while playing video games? The Aquinos squandered money, unlike Duterte, who is building a lot of stuff... like Marcos did. (The government's pretty aggressive in showing off the fact that they're doing something, at least on the infrastructure front, when in reality most of those plans are still in the feasibility stage.) And isn't Marcos the best president we've ever had? Duterte is just a close second! That retard? Fuck him.

Only this time they know the government's got their backs, judging from how they swarmed over the two so-called matrices they've released, somehow proving that there's an effort to oust this president, and it must be true because the president himself validated it, and so you must, too.

All right, the opposition's yielding may have bought all of us time. If they were as combative as Duterte, the political sphere would have been as visibly toxic as it was three years ago. Don't get me wrong. It's still toxic now. People are judging you for what you believe - and if you're in the fence, you're just as terrible as the other side. All they did was turn a civil war, fought on keyboards and behind closed doors, into a series of skirmishes. But as Duterte made true his unspoken promise of being a dictator, clamping down on critics without quite crossing the widely-acknowledged but slowly-blurred line to authoritarianism - savvy of him, that - all cries to maintain the balance end up being a whimper from a sidelined opposition, powerless and, frankly, ineffective.

And thus, we have a campaign where nobody really talks about the issues that generally would define an election - Chinese incursion, Marawi reconstruction, freedom of the press, the selective justice Noynoy used to whine about - and instead, we have the power of recall by brute force, also known as Bong Go.

So, no, it's not going to be otso diretso at all. Call me cynical, or, worse, a part of that other side, but if we're to be frank, you shouldn't just go and believe what your hyperpartisan of online contacts, and the algorithms that power them, tell you. You do not have this in the bag. You've got a lot more work to do.

And your responses...

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