The result of the 2019 midterm election is heartbreaking for those who recognize the dismal state of our democracy. Since the campaign started and the earliest preelection surveys were released, it was quite obvious that the fight of various senatorial candidates who can potentially constitute a loose but promising opposition would be an uphill battle.
It was a losing fight from the get go. They did not have the money, the machinery, the local bases, and for some, the name to win a competitive national campaign. The current administration is also enjoying an oddly high satisfaction rating amid the controversies that it gets into on a regular basis. (READ: Opposition bets fail to get in Magic 12)
In times like this, it is always easier to choose anger and frustration. It is very tempting to retreat to apathy and indifference, and feign ignorance about the democratic crisis that we are currently in. It is convenient to ignore the crumbling check and balances, and democratic institutions in the government.
It is tiring to look for a silver lining when the partial results of elections show us how alleged plunderers, human rights violators, peddlers of anti-poor legislation, seasonal feminists, and the heir of a dictator easily made it to the top 12 of the senatorial race. Still, this is not the time to despair. The 2019 midterm election is only a beginning of a longer battle. (READ: The Davao boys are headed to tSihe Senate)
People often lament how this government brought the worst in Filipinos – people cheering for the brutality of the war on drugs, supporters condoning the misogyny of the President, trolls threatening those who express dissent, and government officials turning a blind eye as this administration undermine our territorial sovereignty. But while all of this may be true, we must also see how the depravities of this government brought the best of us out in the battlefield and how they went where the fighting is the thickest.
Chel Diokno, Samira Gutoc, Pilo Hilbay, Ka Leody De Guzman, and Erin Tañada were hitherto obscure images in our national politics until they decided to run for national positions. All of them willingly left their comfort zones and took up the cudgels for the people in the struggle to reclaim our democracy.
Despite the absence of election money for television advertisements, large campaign sorties, tons of posters, campaign tokens, and paraphernalia, they went out to barangays, public markets, schools, and communities. They conversed with the constituents. They showed up in public debates and demonstrated that while their opponents got the resources, their rivals did not have the arguments or the qualities that would qualify them for public office. In the short campaign period, they gave us a taste of principled leadership and a glimpse of unwavering conviction and relentless irreverence in the face of certain defeat. (READ: Otso Diretso bets' promise: We won't steal public funds if elected)
Heroes in our midst
They are reminders that there are heroes in our midst who, in time of utmost desperation, selflessly took the enormous enemy head on. They might have lost in the polls but they embody what remains of our democratic aspirations. (READ: Last time opposition didn't win any Senate seat was 80 years ago)
If winning entails compromising liberal values and tolerating governance fraught with indignities, then let us lose. If losing means keeping our idealism intact, then let us lose and lose overwhelmingly. I would rather lose with our human rights lawyers, peace advocates, and labor leaders than win with mass murderers, plunderers, and opportunists. Losing a battle does not equate losing the war. As we watch the annihilation of the opposition in the government, it is high time to look and fill the spaces for collective action. They might have captured the traditional centers of power. (READ: PDP-Laban bets: ‘We will support Duterte all the way’ in the Senate)
The Supreme Court might have already been incorporated by this administration, the Congress and the Senate might have already been filled with legislators at the President’s disposal, the party-list groups might have been hijacked by dynasties, and our local governments might have long been at the claws of traditional politicians and political clans. But history is not solely made in legislative chambers and halls of justice.
History is also made and changed in the classroom, in the workplace, at home, and in the streets. And while this administration can rob us of an independent judiciary and Senate, and obliterate the opposition in a single election, it will never have the power to rob us of our hope.
Today we lose but history tells us that while tyrants and fascists may emerge in the most desperate situations, in the long haul, the persevering and relentless resistance of the people for our collective aspiration for liberty and dignity always prevails. (READ: Groups urge unity vs tyranny ahead of People Power anniversary) – Rappler.com
Vec Alporha teaches History at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños. Before joining the faculty, she was chairperson of the University Student Council of UP Baguio. She is set to graduate with an MA History degree in UP Diliman in June 2019.