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Getting real in politics

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WHEN YOU come down to, it’s mostly about power. There may be other fringe benefits such as fame and financial, but there’s nothing like power. Henry Kissinger described it once as an aphrodisiac, which is why it can be addictive.

It’s no surprise then than the highest leader of the land has dropped a political bragging right like a bombshell recently in his own inimitable and intimidating way. Or more aptly, flatly rejected suggestions that he steps down now, not later.

Faced with a growing disenchantment from his critics and former fans alike, President Duterte has been urged to give up his lease in Malacanang which still has more than one year to it, resign and be gone into the  night.

A big, arrogant NO, the besieged chief executive firmly responded.

So, the inconvenient truth for many, has fallen off, wittingly or unwittingly, from the horse’s mouth: it’s all about power. The reality check that comes across is that the highest official of the land doesn’t care who wants to run him out of office sooner than later. As long as the military raises him up on its broad shoulder while making those invisible goosesteps, who cares even if the rest of the nation wants him to resign or drop dead with harder praying, pronto?

It should be clear by now to many that it’s not public service that he is there for, after all. British philosopher Benjamin Disraeli once said that power has only one duty: to secure the social welfare of the people.  Does the incessant call and clamor for Duterte’s resignation a fair and consistent view of the state of the (un) \welfare of the people under his watch? The pantry versus paltry trend may be a revelation.

Unfortunately or fortunately, Duterte is right about where he stands in the moment of truth vis-a-vis the military support.  No less than Sen. Ping Lacson, who straddles the line between an enabler and critic of the administration, has doused cold water on any speculation that the military may withdraw its support to the President.  There may be some complaints here and there, up or down the uniformed hierarchy but no such thing as withdrawal of whatever kind. Not now or the foreseeable future, based on the veteran senator’s crystal ball.

And the President’s favorite mouthpiece, Harry Roque, can even double down on   results of survey after survey that his man has this Teflon-like popularity. No matter what muck is thrown his direction, it just bounces off and then deflected to the source.  In the eyes of many, both institutions, however damaged or improved, are perceived to be in his pocket.  Well, loyalty pays — except with the people’s money, of course.  And yet, don’t forget who owns them: my military, my police.

He must hearken to George Santayana, though, that those who do not remember the past, tragic or farce according to Karl Marx, are condemned to repeat it. Marcos thought all along that the emperor was fully covered in invincible, not invisible, garb, until that fateful day when he was flown to Hawaii by an American air force plane while he thought he was going to have a short respite in Paoay.

With this kind of confidence that gave Marcos a false sense of security and Duterte his own sense, false or not, there is such a thing as a tipping point, according to best selling author Malcolm Gladwell. It is that point of critical mass or boiling point that a trend or behavior crosses and spreads like a wildfire or COVID virus.   Gladwell’s book was marketing than political but political can be marketing, too.

The assassination of the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino was hardly thought of as the tipping point that will tip the balance against Marcos and his administration. It was and it became not only a political miracle of some sort but eventually an international template in dethroning autocrats via the peaceful means.

History will always repeat itself, according to Santayana, as long as people forget the past.

Is the growing call for Duterte’s resignation a distant rumbling of a mere disgruntled some or a foreboding of a rising,  dissonant voice of history in the making, telling us that the past has not only been forgotten but rewritten by revisionists?

Duterte is entitled to his own interpretation of the prevailing political realities in the country today. That view of things may be reinforced or exaggerated even by his circle of enablers who would rather remain silent–usually what strengthens power and authority like no other.  So critics can keep pricking at the bubble and nothing may work for now.

Nietzsche said all things are subject to interpretation. What interpretation prevails at a certain given time is a fiction of power and not truth he said. There was once a fictional emperor who he thought he had the best new clothes in the kingdom because his minions didn’t tell him he was naked until a child came along and blew the bubble of power with the plain and simple truth: he had nothing on.

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