Spot­ting trapo rhetoric

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORY! -

THERE are mo­bile ap pli­ca­tions that help you quickly iden­tify songs as they are played. But in the po­lit­i­cal swing sea­son, the dream app is the one that de­tects a trapo speech, that which counts the num­ber of times the word “change” is be­ing used or, per­haps, de­ci­pher the more com­plex task of spot­ting the times a po­lit­i­cal can­di­date plays safe on is­sues.

Vot­ers can closely read a whole slew of cam­paign dis­course and find a pat­tern that is more than help­ful to spot a schem­ing trapo. As they say, a po­lit­i­cal gaffe is when a politi­cian tells the truth.

One, ei­ther politi­cians take sides or they don’t. Usu­ally, they don’t, un­less they are will­ing to risk los­ing the sup­port of one sec­tor, and that sec­tor hap­pens to have a neg­li­gi­ble size or can’t sup­port one’s cam­paign fi­nan­cially. The best among them can ac­tu­ally give you an im­pas­sioned speech that doesn’t re­ally say any­thing or take strong po­si­tion on is­sues, ex­cept per­haps in con­vinc­ing you that once in their lives they were like you, toil­ing in the heat, rais­ing a fam­ily with mea­ger re­sources and an oc­ca­sional chal­lenge in bowel move­ment.

Which bring us to the sec­ond trick up the sleeve. It’s a chal­lenge to speak be­fore a mot­ley crowd with vary­ing in­ter­ests, but to solve it, our beloved bet un­leashes a nar­ra­tive that will drive ev­ery­one to a sin­gle as­pi­ra­tion. And here’s where the word “change” comes in handy. Ev­ery­body loves “change,” it’s one strange ab­strac­tion that is as real as the next meal. It’s “change,” and the whole no­tion of it mes­mer­izes the plumber, the bar­tender, the sol­dier, ev­ery­one dreams of not be­ing stuck. It will be change for the bet­ter, and the gullible gets teary-eyed to speeches like those.

While you’re look­ing at a larger-than-life im­age of a can­di­date up the stage, he’d con­fess that he is ac­tu­ally a low life of some sorts.” Last time you re­mem­ber, the hum­ble champ sped by the barangay like a stiff broom on a full moon. So sud­denly now there’s a “we” and an “our” and that fi­nally you all should dream to­gether for a bet­ter city, prov­ince, coun­try, planet. And, look, he’s wear­ing your hat!

In the end, se­ri­ously, the few good men/women among them pos­sess that steady iden­tity of a true pub­lic ser­vant, un­wa­ver­ing in prin­ci­ples, solid in their side of ev­ery is­sue. They ne­go­ti­ate, but they don’t play safe, they don’t lie, they stick to the over­ar­ch­ing no­tions of re­spect for hu­man life, free speech, jus­tice, equal­ity, among oth­ers. And there’s al­ways track record.

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