April 11, 2019

Rethinking Politics


Politics is all about people. By people and ideally for the people. Usually, whenever I hear the word, the first thing that flashes through my mind are the faces of our politicians. Whether good or bad, the way they influence my views on how politicians generally are depends on the strength and weight of what they did through the light of media and outputs. Politics for me is about a structure that can best promote and stabilize a democracy through leaders that serve as both advocates and managers of the general public that it serves and represents. 

To quote the words of Gutmann and Thompson (2004) through Jack Corbett's paper 'But why do we need politicians? A critical review', "By deliberating with their fellow citizens, decision-makers can arrive at better, more adequately justifiable decisions and, in the process, express mutual respect among free and equal citizens. When we say working together,  it doesn't just tell us about the understanding of the relationship between politicians and citizens, but even to the very level of citizens with respect to its fellow citizens. We all have our own sets of personal beliefs and opinions on a wide array of matters about life and existence as a society, but having this mutual respect between leaders and the public it serves will make each of both roles be successful. Relating this to Professor Pippa Norris's analysis of the three key points in a political system, the Demand side, or the side of the citizens, our active participation as key members of the society we are part of is key to a successful democracy. We can't just wait for a miracle through our leaders to make our lives as efficient as possible. We have to do our part, besides, the success of democracy lies on the willingness of most (if not all) its members to help each other and promote the common good. On the other end which is the supply side, or as I take it, the politician's side, leaders should take account whatever is needed or required by the general public for it to progress. As cliche as it is, it is a fact that nobody is perfect, so are politicians. But having the heart to deliver progress not just to selfish reasons but for the whole of society would be a key to a productive leadership. Besides, the government may look like a business as of now, but I don't think it is by nature. Can democracy work without politics? I don't think so. For it to function as it is intended to be, democracy should follow a certain structure, and to promote and stabilize this structure, an institution such as government offices should be existent. Without leaders, there will be no authority, and without authority, society will be operating through selfish reasons, chaos. 

Through the Thespian perspective, politicians are acting out roles that are actually essential for democracy to function and work whether we like their performance of those roles or not (Corbett, 2014). We can always demonize our leaders especially nowadays through a wide array of ways, particularly social media where most of us citizens are interconnected. Though there is a wide disparity between Filipinos in not just a few but a long list of factors, a problem I can clearly see nowadays is that most Filipinos are guided not by facts, but by their emotions. We are naturally fanatics, but sometimes, being too attached to an ideal makes our judgements highly emotional rather than based on facts (post- truth). To make things worse, these facts sometimes in the form of surveys and numbers are parceled out to influence the public's decision making, without the constant need for verification or interpretation (Davies, 2016). The prevalent proliferation of fake news in our country is comparable to cancer which can spread so fast especially to agents who are either ignorant or blinded by personal beliefs or if I may say fanaticism which is something that is very subjective. To reflect this in the light of "Perils of Perception" wherein we ranked third on the least accurate nation when it comes to perception vs. facts, I think most Filipino netizens are (as much as I try to use a lighter term but I have to use it to its accordance) ignorant and worse, gullible.  This is where social studies in the academe can work (or in other cases should have worked) by promoting critical thinking especially through issues such as politics and governance and relating these issues to facts and different views, not just the one that arises through our emotions and personal belief. A good example in promoting this kind of mindset to our students s through a deliberate discussion-based approach on presenting controversial issues to students (Ho, McAvoy, Hess, and Gibbs, 2017). Their study showed that students from these classes were significantly empowered to think of more arguments for the position that they support and even to the positions that they do not. Exposing students to several views, rather than just one, will make them more critical thinkers and not just adapt to a thinking which is presented to them that they 'feel' or 'feel like' 'believing'. 

Reading beyond the lines is not just the important part of being intelligent and active citizens, being exposed to multiple views and opinions, and not just their own thoughts and feelings, will make them more critical not just in choosing sides but also in implementing actions.

References:

The Crick Centre. (2016). Why do we hate politics? Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1TAnxF1">http://bit.ly/1TAnxF1">http://bit.ly/1TAnxF1.

Corbett, J. (2014). But why do we need politicians? A critical review.

Ipsos Group (2017). The Perils of Perception. Retrieved from https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en- uk/perils-perception-2017.

Shout out UK. (2016). Why do we hate Politics? Retrieved from http://www.crickcentre.org/why-do-we- hate-politics/.

Davies, W. (2016). The Age of Post-Truth Politics. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/opinion/campaign-stops/the-age-of-post-truth- politics.html.

Ho, L.C., McAvoy, P., Hess, D., Gibbs, B. (2017). Teaching and Learning about Controversial Issues and Topics in Social Studies: A Review of the Research.

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