Thursday, March 22, 2007

Politics by Lottery: A modest proposal

One of the first complaints to be heard by anyone familiar with the institution of Philippine government is that our government structure is simply borrowed from the United States, without addressing the peculiarities of the native Filipino culture. Of course, this disparity between our governance system and our local political culture has given birth to a web of corruption and inefficiency, a network of thieving bureaucrats and a properly sabotaged public trust. In thinking about ways to close the gap between the cultural norms of the Filipino public, and the expected attitudes articulated in our government’s constitution, we must examine what particular “pinoy” traits can be incorporated into our body politic. I have a modest suggestion.

Gambling is part of the national consciousness. From cockfights to sweepstakes, Filipinos love the uncertainty and excitement of a good bet. A deeply religious culture, the idea of swerte or luck in the Filipino mind is equated with either the blessing or curse of God. The national cliché of bahala na is a bright neon light displaying the national belief in the will of the Divine.

This gambling nature of the Filipino could be easily incorporated into the national election system for the selection of a President. How?

By using the randomness of the lottery machine. My proposal is as follows: after a normal election via popular vote, the COMELEC selects the top three contenders (three is a magic number, and much more diplomatic than a simple binary) whose names are put into a lottery machine, with all the little spinning plastic balls. Now, it’s a question of the will of God. Whoever gets selected in this final stage of the election can then truly claim that God placed her there, without all the hubris of self-proclaimed Divine will.

Now, it is understandable that this may seem a bit loony. But if we think about it, it actually begins to make more sense. The top three candidates are democratically chosen, by having garnered the majority of the votes. The policy of a gamble also ensures that candidates cannot guarantee their victory by simply spending more than their opponents; you can’t buy swerte. And last of all, it means that the deeply religious (perhaps even superstitious) Filipino public can trust that God was the final part of the decision of who is to become the leader of our country.

And of course, one cannot create an Opposition to the will of God.



Kristi said...

I don't know if I told you about my "President for the Day" idea.
A daily "raffle" to choose who would be the official commander-in-chief for 24 hours. (actually, I was so hooked on this idea last summer, had all the mechanism in place in my mind). Still banking on the Filipino's love of a gamble, and the length of term is too short for him/her to do any permanent harm. haha... ;o)

SU Debate Society said...

But can't we also argue that the length of term is also too short for the Day President to do anything good as well?

Kristi said...

And it's also too short for them to do anything bad either... ;o) Toinks, my brain is slowly melting away... Save me from conventional "learning" (read: summer classes) please... ;o)