Tyranny of Numbers

In the past week, we’ve seen how this face of democracy works, with the recent passing of the Reproductive Health Bill in the upper and lower house, on both the second and final reading. Though many are still contesting the acceptability of this measure, the majority had decided and unless the President knocks himself hardly on wood and the Supreme Court again goes on defiance mode against the Legislature, there is no stopping this bill from being passed and signed into law.

Democracy is a process that allows resolution of disputes by a vote of a majority. The levels and degree by which a majority is set varies, depending on the seriousness of the contested debate or issue, nevertheless, democracy has always resorted to a game of numbers when there are many conflicts.

In the past week, we’ve seen how this face of democracy works, with the recent passing of the Reproductive Health Bill in the upper and lower house, on both the second and final reading. Though many are still contesting the acceptability of this measure, the majority had decided and unless the President knocks himself hardly on wood and the Supreme Court again goes on defiance mode against the Legislature, there is no stopping this bill from being passed and signed into law.

Any way you look at it, having a majority or having the “numbers” so to speak in the political ballgame is the ultimate victory in our practice of politics here in the country. You have elections where popular vote is the basis of victory. You have laws that are passed with the affirmation of a simple majority.

In the pursuit of getting the majority, often, people or politicians for that matter, tend to forget their identity and adhere to populist demands of various stakeholders just to win them over and get the majority vote.

This is why I’m wondering why despite this unique feature of democracy, we, as a nation, remain growth laggard and developmentally stagnant.

I always remind myself of a word from my colleague in high school- “The Majority is not always Right.”

Somehow, I agree and I concur with that observation. History has also proven that the majority tends to self-correct itself. Look at the case of former President Joseph Estrada, who won by an overwhelming number and was removed from his office only years after he had the highest winning margin in recent Philippine Presidential Election history.

Let me just say this for the record- “The majority is not always right here in the Philippines, because the people here involved in decision-making are inconsistent.”

One day, you’ll find someone saying yes to a proposal, only to say no later on because of a so-called “change of heart” or a “conscience vote.” One day, you’ll find a group supporting, only to take it back after so-called discovering the true negative color of the cause or the person they supported.

Any way you want to take it, if they have the majority, they gain victory in this democratic process of election or voting.

But you see, this is not really the true majority because had there been a true majority, no group or person would be allowed by a true majority to change positions, sides or convictions, because their true interests and reasons would have been examined critically and exposed by a true and vigilant majority.

What is the true majority for me? Actually, my idea’s simple- “The true and real majority doesn’t care anymore whatever a political majority is acquired in the legislature or even in the processes instituted by our laws and implemented by our government agencies, institutions and officials.”

The real majority only cares about survival, only cares about personal interests, and only cares about getting by. These are the average, normal, ordinary citizens that have been alienated by this so called “tyranny of numbers in politics.”

This is the devastating consequence brought about by the lack of a true democracy in the country, where the tyranny of numbers is manipulated by those who have the most vested interests in getting political power.

So should you ask me if there’s a tyranny of numbers, I would say yes in a heartbeat. Why? It’s because the real majority doesn’t care anymore whether there is a majority in our democratic processes, that’s why the tyranny of the majority in our body politic and governance processes get away with their foolish and insulting actuations.

Now that’s the Tyranny of Numbers for you.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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