[OPINION] Despite the ifs and buts, millennials should go out and vote

John Patrick P. Habacon
[OPINION] Despite the ifs and buts, millennials should go out and vote
By carefully choosing the right people who will occupy positions in the government, we are strengthening the foundations that hold our institutions, and our country as a whole, together.

Looking at the results of the recent pre-election surveys and seeing the names included in these lists make me feel ambivalent towards the upcoming 2019 midterm elections. Although doubts still surround the validity and reliability of these surveys, we cannot discount that these results, to a large extent, reflect the general outlook of most Filipinos towards certain issues confronting our society today. (READ: Pre-election surveys: What can voters do if they don’t like the results?

As we can see, the surveys are dominated by senatorial hopefuls who are heavily endorsed by the administration, a glaring manifestation of the enduring popularity of the Duterte government and the high level of confidence that it continuously receives from most Filipinos particularly the masses. This despite the fact that some of these senatorial candidates are currently facing charges of graft and corruption, or were involved in controversies regarding fraudulent behaviors. (LIST: 2019 Senate hopefuls facing cases, complaints, probe)

The “Duterte magic” which catapulted him to power in 2016 appears to be unwaning any time soon, and even seems to rub off to these senatoriables who are banking on the Duterte rhetoric of “radical change” and “iron rule” to win in the next election.

With that being said, the upcoming election is just like any other elections that had happened in the past. A popularity contest wherein those who have money and influence will emerge victorious in the end.

Unfortunately, the notion of “public office is a public trust” remains to be elusive in the consciousness of many. 

Hope for the future

The only saving grace, I believe, in this year’s election is the fact that majority of the voters will come from the sector of the youth. Almost 31% of the entire voting population are the so-called “millennials” aged 18-30. Although the millennials are oftentimes accused of being too lazy (but love to complain about things), or are seen as self-absorbed (but utterly sensitive), entitled brats, there’s still a lot of reasons to remain optimistic and hopeful of what the youth can do and contribute.

If the results of nationwide pre-election surveys are quite dismaying, the results of various college and university campus polls surely buoy up my faith that there’s still hope for a better election ahead of us this year. In addition, a lot of the youth nowadays are actively engaging in political discussions through the use of new media platforms such as social media sites.

These contemporary forms of communication technology enable the youth to harness and obtain as much information they need to construct informed opinions and help them become more critical on matters affecting the society. 

It also goes to show that, contrary to the popular belief that millennials are socially and politically apathetic; they just needed a platform where they could express themselves and allow for their marginalized voices to be heard.

Of course, college and university students are just a fraction of the total number of the youth voting populace in the country, but imagine the impact it may bring if these young, informed, and highly critical voters could be mobilized into action. (READ: Youth and elections: Is there such a thing as a ‘youth vote’?)

Vote because, and vote despite

The biggest challenge, therefore, is to translate these “woke tweets” and campus mock poll results into actual votes. With all the controversies and issues plaguing our country every day, it is very easy, especially among the youth who are highly idealistic, to get frustrated and discouraged. 

This kind of cynicism that is running high among many millennials nowadays hinders them from actively engaging in important social and political decisions such as elections. They are very much qualified to vote, but they simply choose not to. (READ: I didn’t vote the last elections, and boy do I regret it)

For instance, many young voters are hesitant to partake in the election process because they think that no one has met their standards for the ideal type of candidate. Others believe the system only works for the elite and the privileged – they lost their faith in the ability of the election process to uplift the lives of the marginalized. For some, voting is a futile endeavor, a total waste of time.

If we truly aspire for reforms in our current system, we have to start from ourselves. And in doing so, we have to change our mindset.  

Vote even if you are not satisfied with the lineup of the candidates. Do not search for a faultless candidate; because in the real world, there will never be one. Even the world’s highly-accomplished, high-esteemed statesmen have their own fair share of bad decisions and shortcomings. They also don’t need to be products of prestigious universities or recipients of various accolades and awards; in a democratic society like ours, anybody can be a public servant. And public service demands, as the term suggests, genuine desire to serve and contribute to our nation-building.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should just settle for candidates who have nothing to offer but sweet promises and beautiful faces. We need to be critical of whom we will elect – they should represent our best interests and welfare but at the same time, acknowledge that there will always be a space for them to improve and learn throughout the process.

Also, vote even if you do not entirely trust the system. Our democratic institutions are far from being perfect, but this also means that there are more opportunities to change, to improve, and to develop. The process of nation-building is a continuous, collective pursuit, and each of us has an important role to play in realizing this goal. 

By carefully choosing the right people who will occupy positions in the government, we are strengthening the foundations that hold our institutions, and our country as a whole, together. Change will not happen instantaneously, but it has to start from somewhere. (READ: To the youth: Let’s be the change our nation needs)

Lastly, vote even if you feel that the whole election process is pointless. Election goes beyond the simple exercise of a political right. It is an embodiment of our freedom to choose and decide for our own good and for the collective good. If only we would just regard election like a sacred ritual, we would not allow our votes to be trampled upon by corruption, greed, and injustice. As citizens of this country, voting conscientiously is the least that we can do, but at the same time, the most important thing that we will ever contribute in the betterment of the Philippines. 

So in spite of all the reservations, all the ifs and buts that we have in mind, please go out and vote. Your vote counts. And it matters. – Rappler.com

Habacon is a graduate student of Sociology at the UPLB and a social science instructor at the Lyceum of the Philippines University- Laguna.

Follow Rappler’s full coverage of the 2019 Philippine elections here.

Bookmark this Rappler page for real-time election results.
It will go live as soon as precincts close at 6 pm Monday, May 13.

 

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