It’s Time to Elect Candidates on Merit, Rather than Name Recognition

The scenes we witness election after election is always the same: political advertisements dominate television airtime, the radio waves constantly play catchy campaign jingles from the candidates and every major thoroughfare of the city or town you reside in are littered with banners endorsing a certain personality.

Though these tactics may seem annoying, you can’t fault the candidates for employing a tried and proven campaign method. The barrage of information being hurled at the potential voter borders that of brainwashing, though not quite.

Typical scenes during an election period.

Nevertheless, the essence is comparable: this strategy is being employed to drive the candidate’s name and face into the psyche of the potential voter. It is an exercise to make the candidate unforgettable when one enters that polling precinct to cast their vote.

In lieu of a substantive policy platform or at least proper credentials to be seen as worthy of the elected position they are gunning for, most candidates today would instead choose to market themselves like how a fast-food company markets a new burger product.

The comparison makes even more sense given that in both cases what is being promoted is the willing consumption of junk.

And perhaps by being cognizant of that behaviour we can begin to understand why, just as how a common junk-food addict suffers from hypertension or diabetes our political system is also ailing from the excessive intake of junk candidates.

While the usual prescribed remedy for fast-food related conditions is proper diet and regular exercise, similarly the best way to ameliorate our political ailments is to reduce the intake of these junk politicos and exercise critical thought when deciding who we would spend our democratic vote with.

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Pretending to be subtle, some aspiring re-electionists would shamelessly display their names and faces on government-funded projects to ensure voters would know it was their initiative that made the project happen.

All employers, when hiring new employees, would screen potential candidates based on their abilities and prior experience. Since politicians are supposed to be servants of the people, shouldn’t it be time we also start scrutinizing them based on their ability and work experience rather than just the number of times we’ve heard about their names?

The Philippines faces another election in less than twelve months, with the 2019 Senatorial Elections fast approaching. As with all other elections, we can expect the campaign jingles, never-ending TV ads and shameless display of political banners on full display.

However, much like a recovering junk-food addict exerting effort to discipline themselves to stay away from another burger or deep-fried potato fries we should also exercise restraint and avoid being lured into voting for candidates simply because we keep hearing about their names.

Instead, we should take a step back and examine who of these potential candidates are the most qualified to be worthy of having a plum job shouldered by taxpayers.

Does the individual have prior work experience relevant to politics or to governance?

Did they excel in their previous field of work? How significant were their achievements?

Do they exercise the drive, gumption or determination to do what’s best for the people and their country?

If their previous work experience was in politics, which branch of government was it and did they do?

If in the legislature, what was their voting history like? Did they vote for the legislation that served my interests and oppose those which were against my well-being?

If in the executive, did they exercise prudence in spending taxpayer funds? What were their projects like, were there projects they initiated that were found to be anomalous?

If in the judiciary, how did they justify the verdict they handed down on the cases they handled? Were they fair to ordinary citizens on trial as they were to wealthy individuals or big corporations?

Much like how a health-conscious person would ask questions regarding the food products they purchase, a patriotic person or someone who has love for their country and their fellow countrymen should also ask cautionary questions about the people they choose to elect.

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