In defense of the ‘uneducated’ voter
The elections are over and Filipino voters around the world are now waiting for the poll results.
I have been seeing a lot of “educated” voters rant about the unofficial results all over social media. They call the masses “stupid” or “foolish” and even curse those who voted for candidates shunned by the upper and middle classes.
This, I think, is problematic.
First, on the ethical side, this is problematic because it is meddling with people’s decisions.
So what if people vote candidates that you dislike? It’s their choice.
As one of my Facebook friends posted, every person has his or her reason for choosing candidates. It may not be the same reason for others who are more connected online, but it is still a reason that must be respected.
As the philosopher Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.
Secondly, the Philippines is a democratic country and at the heart of a democracy is the belief that everyone is equal. I have seen comments on social media of people wishing that the Philippines would be less democratic so that the “right” people will be in government.
Really? Would they rather prefer a return to the Martial Law era where the “right” people were in place and the Philippines was “prosperous?”
We may not have gotten the results we wanted but that does not mean we are enjoying “too much” democracy. The masses have decided. It’s time to move on and accept this fact.
I was conversing with a taxi driver on my way to the office two days after the elections. The driver named Ernie was happy that some of his senatorial bets landed in the top 12. When I asked him who his bets were, I was saddened though not shocked. Like most of my peers and colleagues, I considered most of his bets incompetent and irrelevant.
I asked him why he voted the way he did. He said he identified with them and he believed in their capabilities.
Do I consider Ernie stupid for voting the candidates he identified with? Is he “uneducated” for choosing people he believed in? Of course not.
That conversation with him gave me a clear vision of the entire picture. It all boils down to the different and often contradicting perspectives of social classes.
I can say that these “educated” voters on social media are from the middle class. I know because I identify with them. I am saddened, however, by how harsh some of them can judge those unlike them.
In my viewpoint, “educated” is a term being used by the middle class and elite to show their superior intellectual capacity to choose candidates. “Bobo,” on the other hand, is a pejorative term used by the middle class and elite to distinguish themselves from the poor who rely less on platforms and rely more on candidates’ perceived morality.
I, too, have senatorial candidates in mind who I want to be elected. I, too, am saddened by the fact that they did not get into the top 12. But I don’t blame the poor for this. It’s the people’s decision and the bulk of the voters are from their class. We cannot deny this fact.
There are no “bobo” or “enlightened” voters. It’s just a matter of class perspective.
Do something about it
I think it’s time to move forward and take more progressive steps. Let’s keep an eye on the elected who we do not consider “just” or “competent” and criticize them based on how they use the power entrusted to them in the next 6 years.
For if we rant endlessly about not getting the candidates we want and merely blame those who elected “trapo” or “incompetent” leaders, how different would we be from the politicians who rant and complain about being cheated during elections?
Rizal said, “Tal pueblo, tal gobyerno.” (What the people are, the government is.) We deserve the government and the kind of leaders we get. We put them in place. If our country suffers for the kind of leaders we get, we ought not to blame the poor alone. We all have a part to play.
If members of the middle class want more “educated” voters, they should help shape them.
Enough of talking and ranting, it’s time to work on education. Let’s move toward a more empowered electorate for 2016. – Rappler.com
David Lozada is a writer and partnership manager of Rappler's MovePH. He recently graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University. He does not claim to be an expert in political analysis, but is simply sharing his views.