The people have given their mandate; now BBM must lead
The Manila Times
BEFORE the experience is discarded completely as yesterday’s news and displaced by the new headlines, we should freeze in time the trial that we have just lived through in our national election to affirm the reality of our democracy, and elect our national and local leaders for the next three to six years. The words of political scientist and historian James MacGregor Burns telescope memorably all that happens in a national election in the book, Presidential Government (Avon Books, New York, 1967). He wrote: “In the short span of 10 weeks or 90 days, under the close scrutiny of the media and the people, the candidates and political parties mount a vast political enterprise, across the entire continent or archipelago, stage campaign rallies and show extravaganzas, present their platforms and ideas, string their campaigns together in all kinds of alliances, implore voters for their support, and then bring the show together for a grand climax on election day. “A national election is the supreme expression of democracy, a time of direct, deep and uninhibited sharing by the people in the nation’s decision-making, a time when we tolerate the confusion and the clowning and the vulgarity because the people’s voice in the end rises above all this and registers their collective wisdom and aspirations. “The election ruthlessly casts aside the aspirants who cannot organize a large campaign organization, who cannot bargain with other leaders, who cannot appeal to the mass of voters, who cannot spell out their programs, who cannot hold their temper and keep their sense or honor.” All this and more has happened in our 2022 national election. And now we stand on the verge of a sweeping and dramatic makeover of leadership in the country. Robredo’s holdout As the hour approaches for the confirmation and proclamation by Congress of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio as the president-elect and vice presidentelect in the May 9 election, there are some who remain incapable of the littlest show of statesmanship and civility, by conceding their defeat and acknowledging the victors in the election. Vice President Leni Robredo and her ragtag band of supporters are clinging desperately to the slender hope that by fair means or foul they can still derail the coming proclamation by messing up the national situation and confusing the public about our people’s electoral verdict. They hope by this to maintain continued campaign funding from the CIA and other foreign sources, by styling themselves as still potent actors in national politics. Robredo fantasizes that she can become the leader of the political opposition to the new Marcos administration, even though she will be totally out of public office starting June 30 this year. Most of her staunchest allies are former government officials and retirees from the government service. But then the mantle of the opposition will surely be claimed by those who have won in the election, or those who are still serving out their terms. Robredo’s umbilical tie to the US government has been shattered by the expressed desire of the Joseph Biden government to nurture close ties with the incoming Marcos administration. The National Endowment for Democracy and the CIA will be in difficulty to justify the continued and lucrative funding of the Jesse Robredo Foundation, which is managed by Robredo family members. It will be interesting to see what will happen to Leni’s holdout if Marcos and the media just ignore her completely. As sure as night follows day, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio will be proclaimed by Congress on May 23 as the new president and vice president of the Philippine Republic. When this happens, Leni Robredo will sink into oblivion, like all candidates who lost their bids for the presidency in elections past. Who remembers today the losers in our past elections. The ravages of time on memory is merciless. Meaning of a mandate Leni will be forgotten because the talk will turn toward the question of who won the people’s mandate in the election. This is the bone crusher that will leave her in the dust. She got away with her questionable election to the vice presidency in 2016, but there is no Smartmatic to help her this time. A mandate, according to Wikipedia, is the authority granted by a constituency to act as its representative. Elections, especially ones with a large margin of victory, are often said to give the newly elected government or elected official an implicit mandate to put into effect certain policies. When a government seeks reelection they may introduce new policies as part of the campaign and are hoping for approval from the voters, and say they are seeking a “new mandate.” Governments and elected officials may use language of a “mandate” to lend legitimacy to actions that they take in office. From Elections A to Z (CQ Press, Washington, D.C., 2003): “Mandates are usually associated with landslide victories in election results. particularly in presidential elections. A candidate who wins big is said to have a mandate to carry out the will of the people.” William Safire, in his Political Dictionary, is more informative and complete in his description and definition of a mandate. “A mandate is the authority to carry out a program conferred on an elected official, especially strong after a landslide victory.” In the US, the two-party system has helped ensure the transfer of mandates at frequent intervals. Dwight Eisenhower, who was elected to two terms as US president, entitled his memoirs, Mandate for Change. John F. Kennedy, who won by the slimmest margin over then Vice President Richard Nixon, did not shrink from claiming a mandate for his presidency. He parlayed his narrow margin of victory as a mandate for his New Frontier vision of America. In 1955, the political thinker and columnist Walter Lippmann argued that a mandate may be achieved by means other than electoral. He wrote: “Political ideas can acquire operative force in human affairs when they acquire legitimacy, when they have the title of being right which binds men’s consciences. Then they possess, as the Confucian doctrine has it, “the mandate of heaven.” BBM’s mandate The character and magnitude of Bongbong Marcos’ victory in the 2022 election leaves in no doubt whatever that he has a mandate to lead and govern the Philippines at this particular time in history. He enters office with assured majorities in the houses of Congress and a clear majority of local governments across the whole archipelago. He enters office with clear ideas of the policies and programs which he will strive to legislate and execute. He will seek to unite the entire country, all the branches of government, across the entire archipelago and across all the generations. Not only is BBM the first majority Philippine president since 1986, he is matched only by his father, Ferdinand E. Marcos, who won a clear majority of the votes in 1969, when he became the first reelected president of the Philippines. Generally speaking, the nation’s problems define a president’s mandate more than the promises he explicitly makes during his campaign. A president’s agenda consists of his proposed solutions to the nation’s problems, and this is usually expressed in the forms of legislative proposals to Congress and policies for implementation by the executive. Our people have clearly spoken and given their mandate in the election. Now, it’s time for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to lead.