“If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you are not conservative at 30, you have no brain.”
This quote allegedly penned by Winston Churchill could very well be the best spin that defenders of Vice President Jejomar Binay would use to defend his budding romance with legatees of the Marcos dictatorship.
They would say that this was inevitable. All one needs to do is look at the political landscape and count how many from the Vice’s generation of sixties radicals have gone conservative. I recall one pundit even using it to justify his wealth-generating carpetbaggery.
The only problem is that conservatives are not exactly smart. The prose they produce can be quite attractive and well written; it is when they try to turn that into real programs that their arguments unravel. Witness how the Republican George Bush almost tanked the American economy, losing the surplus generated under the Democrat Bill Clinton. Witness what happened to the former Soviet Union when ideologues of the free market put their stamp soon after its Frankenstein socialist economy collapse. Gangster capitalism prevailed under Boris Yeltsin and was only suppressed under a new authoritarian order crafted by Vladimir Putin.
So the Vice’s ideologues may need to be careful when using this popular phrase as being conservative does not make one brilliant.
However, there is a much more fundamental problem here, and one that the Vice’s cronies have side-stepped. And this has something to do with his brain.
Conservatives, as mentioned above, are masters of intelligent prose, but alas there is very little evidence of this in the Vice. The elections are more than 7 months away, and we have yet to hear something solid in terms of conservative policy from him. Nada.
Instead of a passionate explanation for Makati’s progress, the Vice and family content themselves with one-liners. Instead of a convincing critique of the President’s economic policies, a list of the supposed failures of governance under the current administration’s watch. Moreover, instead of a reasoned response to criticisms that he and his brood have enriched themselves, a feigned hurt and anger over the personal nature of these attacks.
(There is reason for the Vice and his family to show hurt when it comes to the criticisms of ill-gotten wealth. For very often these critics and their minions display with pride their racism, especially when it comes to the Vice and his kin’s skin. The bigotry of the “Yellow Army,” as one Binay man calls Aquino’s supporters, can give the Ku Klux Klan a run for its money. On this, my sympathies are with the Vice.)
There is gossip that he has formed policy teams whose members include the thinkers of the despised Gloria Arroyo; this we have to see. But more importantly, we look forward to how the Vice explains the policies cooked up by these panels extemporaneously. I am certain what comes out of his mouth will be a vulgar version of what his ideologues wrote for him – despite his UP pedigree.
The Vice’s courtship of the son of the dictator has nothing to do with his evolving, albeit belatedly, a conservative brain. It is not a well-thought out assiduously planned strategy to win the Ilocano and youth votes (many among the young believe the dictator did the country well). It is a crude move and its justification much cruder!
“Kalimutan na natin ang nakaraaan! It’s all water under the bridge” – these are arguments that one could expect from Imelda, but not from the Vice. He was witness to that dark history; he even defended those tortured and imprisoned by the regime. Even his fellow radicals-turned-conservatives still speak fondly of their youth. Vice’s brain appears to have permanently deleted the neurons associated with that past.
“Human rights violations continue to prevail today!” is the Vice’s other response to critics who can accuse him of pirating an argument that local communists have proprietary rights over: the permanence of human rights violations from the Marcos days till today.
Historical nuance disappears because all the characters are the same; only their constitutional masks have changed. But the Vice needs to be careful not to use this argument repeatedly. For if he is suggesting that Aquino was no different from Marcos (both guilty of human rights violations), the dictator’s son may not like the idea of his father as the origin of it all. Bad tactics.
Churchill’s statement – if it was really his – needs to be modified in the Vice’s case. One can concede that if, at 30, one is still not a conservative, then at 60, to be conservative is to have lost that brain. – Rappler.com
Patricio N. Abinales is an OFW.
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