Service Or Serve Us?

Ric PatricioFinally, the  sights, sounds, and fury of unabated political campaigns for the 2013 mid-term elections are over.  Those who have already been proclaimed winners are basking in glory while some who lost the race were  humble enough to accept their fate when the votes started to count in favor of their opponents.  Others believe that the faulty PCOS machines and their insidious compact flash cards, to name a few, were responsible for their defeat and they are, therefore, taking legal means to address their grievances. For some losers, cheating by their rivals is always the convenient scapegoat.

In retrospect, we have been bombarded with conventional and novel “demand creation” strategies by politicians during the past campaign period.  It is not only through the tri-media (print, radio, TV) where the virtues, accomplishments, and promises of the aspirants are being heralded.  The social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and gadgets (cell phones, tablets, etc.) have evolved into effective tools for self-aggrandizement.  One can only wonder how much are the associated costs (explicit and implicit) to become a grand slam winner.  One thing that’s quite clear, however.  In order to win a seat, you need to have a huge amount of money in your war chest. Our current political system favors  incumbents so the challengers need well-financed campaigns for name recognition to unseat them. If election results are analyzed, we should not be surprised if the findings show more than 80% of the incumbents regularly winning  against newcomers.

The promise of providing unparalled service to their constituents is the common battle-cry when the candidates are seeking office.  Once elected, real life situation seeps in and the influence of special groups that contributed to the financing of the costly campaign often influence the politician  to no longer represent the interests of his or her entire constituency.

How many elected officials do we see, who are not vindictive against their non-supporters?  The same politicians who projected an aura of accessibility during the campaign period are now cordoned by their bodyguards.  At the executive level, many decisions are made without comprehensive consultation with the masses that empowered them with their votes.  At the legislative side, how many resolutions, ordinances, or bills were approved without the benefit of public hearings?

The newly elected officials should look up to Jesus as excellent example of servant leadership.  In John 13:3-5, we read that “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.”

In John 13:12-17 it says, “When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Much is needed in reforming our electoral system to come up with leaders able to portray the examples of the Great Master.  Some suggest that paid political advertising should be banned and instead encourage debates presented and underwritten by independent media and political groups.  Public financing of political campaigns, higher salaries for elected officials, limiting their length of service or terms, and restricting their access to government’s logistics will likely eliminate corrupting influences in politics.

Whether we have the will and commitment to install reforms in our political system to ensure emergence of  leaders with real passion, best intention, and good programs towards improving social welfare still remain to be seen.