A tra­di­tion of pub­lic ser­vice

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features - By DR. JUN YNARES, M.D.

HAT if my ri­vals ac­cuse me of be­ing part of a po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty?” We have been shar­ing with our read­ers the ques­tions that a num­ber of young po­lit­i­cal as­pi­rants join­ing the 2019 elec­tions have been ask­ing us. As men­tioned in our re­cent columns, we have been pass­ing over to them wis­dom de­rived from our own ex­pe­ri­ence and those of our el­ders who have men­tored us in the art and science of pub­lic ser­vice.

Some of them are chil­dren of par­ents who have ei­ther been in pol­i­tics in the past or may still be hold­ing elec­tive and ap­pointive po­si­tions in gov­ern­ment. They are “sec­ond” or “third” gen­er­a­tion po­lit­i­cal as­pi­rants, as some would de­scribe them.

It ap­pears one of their big­gest wor­ries is be­ing la­beled part of a “po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty.” They have shared with me some of the an­swers they be­lieve might work just in case that is­sue is raised at a cau­cus, me­dia in­ter­view or pub­lic de­bate dur­ing the cam­paign pe­riod.

We have not been spared that la­bel. It puz­zles us that some can­di­dates feel they could win an elec­tion just by telling peo­ple not to vote for some­one who has the same fam­ily name as other pub­lic ser­vants oc­cu­py­ing elec­tive and ap­pointive gov­ern­ment po­si­tions. As men­tioned in our pre­vi­ous columns, the pre­ferred bases for choos­ing can­di­dates for whom to vote on the part of to­day’s mod­ern vot­ers is the “Power of the Prom­ise.” The “Prom­ise” is the hope and ex­pec­ta­tion on the part of vot­ers in­spired by two things: The Per­son (of the can­di­date) and his or her Per­for­mance Track Record.

My usual sug­ges­tion to po­lit­i­cal as­pi­rants against whom the la­bel “po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty” is be­ing hurled is this: Ig­nore.

The “ig­nore” strat­egy works par­tic­u­larly well in sit­u­a­tions where the fam­ily from which an as­pi­rant comes have done their jobs well, have helped trans­form com­mu­ni­ties, and have given their con­stituents bet­ter lives and greater hope.

We re­al­ized, how­ever, that “ig­nore” is dif­fi­cult to do for a mil­len­nial. They have that spe­cial need to “an­swer” an ac­cu­sa­tion; to set the record straight; to de­mol­ish an ar­gu­ment. So, we of­fered this for­mula. When the “po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty” bo­gey­man is raised by a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent, we pro­pose the “Re­phrase and Em­brace” ap­proach. Here is how it works. Sup­pose the young po­lit­i­cal as­pi­rant is asked at a pub­lic de­bate: “Your op­po­nent says you are part of a po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty that has stayed too long in pub­lic of­fice. What do you have to say about that?”

Now, re­phrase and em­brace. Here is how it is done. First, “re­phrase” the ques­tion: “My op­po­nent prob­a­bly means that I come from a fam­ily whose mem­bers have ded­i­cated them­selves to the ser­vice of our com­mu­nity. I be­lieve that what my op­po­nent is say­ing is that I come from a fam­ily whose tra­di­tion of com­mu­nity in­volve­ment has been rec­og­nized by our peo­ple. I be­lieve that my op­po­nent is hav­ing a hard time un­der­stand­ing why our peo­ple have been re­cip­ro­cat­ing my giv­ing their vote for ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vants who hap­pen to be part of our fam­ily.” Now, “em­brace”: “So, yes, I come from a fam­ily – or a clan – with a strong tra­di­tion of pub­lic ser­vice. As long as that tra­di­tion is rec­og­nized by the peo­ple of our com­mu­nity, I would like my op­po­nent to know that I in­tend to live up to that time-hon­ored tra­di­tion.”

We re­spect the on­go­ing dis­cus­sion in cer­tain quar­ters re­gard­ing so-called “po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties.” Our view is that the term has to be de­fined more clearly and sharply. It should also not be used to deprive vot­ers of the power of choice. One’s fam­ily name and fam­ily affin­ity is not a crime. It should not cur­tail one’s right to present one­self to the elec­torate and ask to be en­trusted with an elec­tive po­si­tion.

It is good to ex­am­ine the fact that there are cer­tain per­son­al­i­ties who do not be­long to any po­lit­i­cal plan who, when elected into of­fice, failed to pass the test of “Per­son” and “Per­for­mance Track Record.”

To say that po­lit­i­cal fam­i­lies or po­lit­i­cal clans can ma­nip­u­late elec­tions in the ar­eas where they are present is, again, a mis­un­der­stand­ing of cur­rent re­al­i­ties. Our vot­ers are too wise to al­low them­selves to be ma­nip­u­lated or con­trolled. They have greater ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, thanks to tech­nol­ogy. They will make de­ci­sions based on the vast amount of in­for­ma­tion avail­able to them to­day.

We do not mean to pro­vide an ex­cuse for per­son­al­i­ties iden­ti­fied with po­lit­i­cal fam­i­lies who may have abused the perks and power of the of­fice to which they were elected.

What we hope to point out is this – that the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion as to who should serve them must be left in the hands of the voter.

* For feed­back, please email it to an­tipoloc­i­ty­gov@gmail.com or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Bev­erly Hills Sub­di­vi­sion, Bgy. Bev­erly Hills, An­tipolo City, Rizal.

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