The 'machinery' myth persists
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-09-22

In the 1992 and 1998 presidential elections, the presidential candidates with the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” have suffered resounding defeats. The so-called “unbeatable political machinery” was with Monching Mitra in 1992 and Joe de Venecia in 1998. Both Monching and Joe lost by big margins.

In 2004, the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” was with Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Most Filipinos think that she never won that presidential election. Most Filipinos think that Garci won the 2004 presidential election.

Now, as we are about to enter the campaign season for the 2010 presidential election — we are again hearing the administration party, the troubled merger of Lakas Kampi CMD, whistling a ‘happy tune’ as they beat their breasts to proudly announce that they have the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” that will elect the next president of the land.

You get to wonder if the Lakas Kampi CMD Party members are idiots — people who do not know the truth — or if they think that we are all idiots. What is even more puzzling is how they manage to get media commentators to mouth their so-called “unbeatable political machinery” bovine ordure.

And yet, when we review the numbers reality, we can see that Monching Mitra in 1992 and Joe de Venecia in 1998 did enjoy better survey ratings than the anointed 2010 Lakas Kampi CMD presidential candidate — Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. Both Monching Mitra and Joe de Venecia never suffered below 1% ratings going into their respective presidential races.

Anyway, it is not your Chair Wrecker’s task today to further highlight the “Impossible Dream” of Gibo Teodoro. Although, yours truly must say that under a different time and under radically different circumstances, Gibo could have been a very attractive presidential candidate.

What your Chair Wrecker seeks to accomplish today is to expose this falsehood about the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” that is again being foisted on our countrymen to try to get them to go for the status quo. This has to be exposed because this falsehood preys on the lesser informed of our countrymen.

This falsehood that rides on the idea of voting for the “sure winner” seduces the less informed to vote for the very political persons responsible for their miserable existence. It is the kind of seduction that makes a raped woman return to her rapist for another session. It is the psychological sickness that has managed to retard our democracy by making voters elect the perceived winners who only manage to make all of us losers once they get elected.

We must inform our voters what exactly political machinery can and cannot do. Political machinery, it must be understood, is the financial and organizational resources to undertake a viable political campaign.

Political machinery is needed to promote a candidate, to make a candidate for public office known to voters along with his or her positive attributes. Political machinery is needed to get your voters to go out and actually vote for you. If 35% plan to vote for you on Election Day, your political machinery can ensure that those voters decide to go to the polling place (and not to the beach) to vote.

Political machinery can prevent cheating from happening — to ensure that all your votes are counted and credited in your favor, that your opponents do not get more than the votes they actually received.

Political machinery can be likened to a good distribution network of a brand in the marketplace. If your advertising has successfully pre-sold your brand, then your distribution network ensures that your brand is at the store shelf when the consumer wants to buy it.

However, your distribution network cannot pre-sell your brand the way advertising does. Your distribution network cannot create the positive image and feeling in the consumer the way advertising does this. The distribution network cannot compel a consumer to buy your brand if a big negative image is hounding it.

In terms of political machinery, nothing comes close to the political machinery of Ferdinand Marcos during the 1986 presidential Snap Election. Unlike the so-called political machineries of Monching Mitra and Joe de Venecia in 1992 and 1998, respectively — the Marcos political machinery also enjoyed a media monopoly.

However, Cory Aquino had something better than the Marcos political machinery. Cory Aquino had People Power. We all know how that political battle ended.

It also happens that when politicians who comprise the so-called “unbeatable political machinery” read the handwriting on the wall, they tend to abandon their destined-to-lose candidates. The so-called “unbeatable political machinery” suffers an implosion. Many members do not just abandon their destined-to-lose candidate — they shift sides and work for the destined-to-win candidate.

Other than the popularly perceived fight of GOOD versus EVIL in 2010, the last minute presidential entry of the Liberal Party has also propagated a largely perceived destined-to-win candidate in Noynoy Aquino. The recent surveys show that the 2010 landscape has dramatically changed with Noynoy threatening to win with an almost majority vote.

The other contending groups, especially the administration party, should do a daily roll call to find out how many members of their so-called “unbeatable political machinery” are still with them. But most of all, they should just stop talking about their so-called “unbeatable political machinery” if they do not have the destined-to-win candidate.

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