Here are a few suggestions on how we may finally attain the elusive dream of creating a majority of intelligent voters in our electoral processes. The idea is based on the principle that to be able to develop an educated electorate, we must first have educated candidates. It goes without saying that an educated – as in, creative, independent and unbiased -- Commission on Elections must also be established. In the meantime, we can settle for educated candidates, that is, people sensitive to the needs and sensibilities of people.
- Limit the use of vehicle convoys and of loud sound systems for campaigning in public places only; such as, commercial places, parks, auditoriums, Barangay-centers and malls.
Rationale: Subdivisions, residential areas, government centers and schools must remain as sanctuaries for people who desire to have quiet privacy and undistracted peace of mind. Blaring campaigns intrude into our homes in the form of noise pollution. Instead of attracting people to appreciate the festive and entertaining effect supposedly conceived by campaigners, it only irritates most people and exhibits apathy for public sensibilities. Besides, an ideal election requires people to choose qualified candidates and the best way that is achieved is for the voters to really get to know these position seekers, not just their names. And that’s all that noisy convoys amount to in general – gaining name recall. There are other ways to achieve that as shown below.
- In the last senatorial elections, we were introduced to high-tech, multi-media campaigning, such as through podcasts, YouTube and phone text messages. The best and perhaps the most informative and closest to our elusive quest are those Internet-based virtual campaign materials that included each candidate’s qualifications, his/her stand on vital issues and audio-video clips of candidates expressing themselves.
Rationale: In terms of “getting to know you candidates”, those publicly accessible and practically free close encounters with candidates provided a democratizing step toward our goal of ideal election campaigns. This method is a lot cheaper than printing all those posters and materials. If candidates and the government worked together to institutionalize this, even those who have access only to radio and TV may be benefited by this high-tech-based info.
- Developing intelligent voters presumes bringing the whole electoral process to a much higher level. How? By educating candidates and voters of their distinct roles and responsibilities. Going back to the basics of this democratic process involves training the public of all the steps involved. The best tool available for achieving this in the least amount of time is through multi-media. Schools and public forums will remain as the base for electoral awareness but multi-media will have a more effective influence in directing where we will be years from now.
Rationale: Campaigning has become the crux of the electoral process and not selfless service arising from a sincere patriotic fervor and not for any personal ambition or gain. As such, elections are dominated by personalities who have succeeded in perpetuating the old traditional politics. Democratizing access to vital information – and that includes knowing your candidate well – is crucial in our search for ideal and intelligent elections.
We would like to see someday a person who does not crave for public adulation and even shies away from people but who has the heart to serve people – and that is what we are after for, after all – given equal chance to be heard and elected. And that can only be possible if we allow anyone to campaign – make himself/herself known – through the various media outlets available without so much expense and so much dependence on the traditional methods available only to the moneyed and powerful vested interests in our society. Let talent, experience and sincerity overtake showbiz techniques and dirty politicking in our midst and we will rest easy that the people who run our government have our lives and our best interest in their hearts and minds.
Three simple steps which if we work on seriously, we can be on the road to progress, sooner or later. We hope sooner.