THE WORM’S EYEVIEW: Can patriotism deter a dynasty?

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/22 June) — One wonders whether there is in families that practice dynastic politics sufficient idealism, altruism, or caring for our society—enough to motivate them to set aside family advantage or desire and give way to others.

This is an issue that tugs at the conscience of thoughtful constituents where a political family tenaciously clings to power, bent on dominating all other families for generations, and no signs of letting go.

Raising this issue is really the same as asking whether a political family or its members can be fair and just, such that they will defer to the common good—because political monopoly, no less than a business monopoly, is bad for a community and society in general.

In other words, is there any chance that idealism, respect for society, or patriotism can motivate a member of a dynasty to subordinate his personal advantage, forego his turn at the reins of power, and rise above his family-imposed agenda in politics?

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This is a momentous question in view of the increasingly shameless and unabashed display of greed displayed by political dynasties as they turn politics into a monopoly and a family enterprise.

A family’s stranglehold on public office blocks the opportunity of other citizens to take their turn at the wheel of public service, which is especially reprehensible where mediocrity marks the dynasty while talents abound in the constituency.

Not only does a selfish dynasty make a travesty of the democratic ideal of equal opportunity and fairness, it deprives our electoral system of a level playing field, exposing them to be bereft of statesmanship.

Exploiting legal loopholes, defying the constitution, they position their members for never ending reign. And they prevail because they can dominate elections with superior funding and logistics—derived from their increasingly larger take from the system (social, political, economic)—which they employ with devastating effect against would-be challengers.

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This isn’t just a political problem. It is a cultural and moral problem for our society. Capturing and monopolizing political power enables them to amass such resources that they can manipulate the system and the people to further their fortunes and their superior status.

It is gross political opportunism. But they seem incapable of recognizing it as such—much less appreciate how it corrupts society and politics starting with the jurisdiction they dominate. It is abusive. It is uncivilized. It is selfish.

So rampant has this aggrandizing pursuit of political office become that it is portraying Philippine politics as hopelessly corrupt and immoral and unrestrained by social or political values.

It is very bad, very reprehensible. It defies our Constitution and causes disrespect for it. It offends our ethical values. And because it trashes our manners and sense of propriety as a people, it is so un-Filipino.

All this negativity it is due to the preponderance of political dynasties throughout our Republic. Would that they would listen to an appeal to patriotism! Is it so unreasonable to ask for idealism to temper excessive indulgence in a selfish political urge?

In other words, can the dynasties abstain from their excessive and voracious aggrandizing of power and control?

Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Govt’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. Author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor ofGising Barangay Movement Inc. [email protected]

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