Capable and winnable

THERE are reasons why some people differ from others. These could be primarily because of political socialization. Political socialization is the "learning process by which people develop an understanding of their political identities, opinions and behavior." Through various agents of socialization such as parents, peers, schools and media, the lifelong experiences of political socialization play a key role in developing the traits of patriotism and good citizenship.

These agents of socialization, we bring to the polls. Some vote with their feet; others with their pocket while the rest find commonalities with the candidate. There are some who use their gray matter to come to a logical conclusion while others focus on popularity. Not all those who are popular are "winnable." This is clear when one looks at several other elements of being winnable.

Winnable is not just leading the pack in surveys for the most important survey is E-Day. Surveys are snapshots of a point in time. If the survey is dated by over a month, then the results are only true for that time and not in the here and now. And survey firms should be cautious because to measure preference today without declared candidates is merely adding to the hype and can lead to an erroneous reading. Preference is very different from predisposition.

Winnable means one has universal awareness, trust rating is half of awareness. Trust after all, is the denominator to calculate conversion. Winnable is education and experience driving the character of a candidate. Winnable means a depth of learning making someone not just conversant but a deep dive on the economy, national security and diplomacy. Yes, the pandemic highlighted the role of strong executive leaders, but knowledge of policy and appropriations make a candidate grounded in governance.

Clearly, the conventional wisdom has been proven every election cycle: there is no women's vote, labor vote or Catholic vote but there are issues and policies merging around those hot buttons. Then, because of the pandemic, health and economy are drivers for the May 2022 elections. What is universal health? What are the businesses needed to ensure a million jobs a month? Do we continue with the service economy or we pursue knowledge-based or we remain consumer-led? Do we export more Filipinos to lessen the population of the country and ensure they have better health services than what the country can give? Where is the SDG in all the noise focusing on mere personalities as if it is the only measurement for winning the presidency?

Rather than attacking other candidates, failing to file cases when that is what accountability dictates and using the same to destroy candidates, let us shift to discussing and agreeing where we want our country to be in the next decade. What does independent and neutral foreign policy mean? Do we play host to other nations to develop our seas on a geographic basis? Do we just pursue pinpoint diplomacy? How, when our baselines law has not been enacted? How do we modernize our military assets and prepare our people to protect our country? Do we pursue mandatory service? Do we allocate 2 percent of our GNP to military development learning from the lessons of the failed AFP modernization? There are so many issues needing defined and studied options and solutions, who among the names being mentioned have the depth of thinking and the years of experience to put together a blueprint from 2022-2028?

Winning is not just about popularity. A winnable candidate is humble, outgoing and close to the people. A winnable candidate is also a good speaker and communicator. A winnable has no criminal record, real or perceived. She or he does not have any "moral" questions hanging over him/her, including ethical ones. With the changed political landscape, there are no secrets, big or small, a candidate can hide. He or she is an open book, constantly open for public scrutiny, 24/7. A winnable candidate is also financially sound. If you do not have your seed money, why would others give more? Finances of candidates will come under scrutiny and in this age of appropriate behavior, everything counts. Proper management of one's finances is an indicator of sound character and good behavior.

Economy is not just about the law of supply and demand. It is about rebuilding based on our comparative advantage as well as in contrast with our neighbors. We were No. 2 in Asia in the late 1960s. In this state of pandemic, "it's the economy, stupid" resonates. A stupid candidate pretending to know much is a danger to the nation because in the end, the president makes that call - a decision that can mean the survival or fall of our country. It is a serious decision every Filipino will make and popularity is the least of our collective concerns because this is not a movie or a telenovela. This is a country.

In the end, it's not doing what is right that's hard for a president. It's knowing what is right.


About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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