Leadership and hope in the presidential race of 2016


IN THE latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey to date on the presidential candidates for the 2016 national elections (reported 23 December 2015) it states: “Grace Poe 26%, Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay 26%, Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas 22%, Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Duterte 20%, Miriam Defensor Santiago 4%, Jose Rizalito ‘Lito’ David 0.1%, Camilo Sabio 0.04%, Elly Pamatong 0%, Roy Seneres 0%, Augusto ‘Boboy’ Syjuco, Jr. 0% and undecided 1%, according to the BusinessWorld-SWS Pre-Election Survey of December 12-14, 2015.”

The SWS surveys on this crop of Presidential candidates, tracked over time to its latest conclusion

The SWS surveys on this crop of Presidential candidates, tracked over time to its latest conclusion

Generally we look at these surveys and the numbers they generate as positions in the race to the top. But there is another way of looking at them. That would be on why these people look at their chose candidates that way. What makes these candidates resonate with this proposition of voters which, at this point, seem to reflect their core following.

Take Rody Duterte. The 20% of voters (ok, survey respondents, if you may, which are supposed to represent the votes) chose him because he resonates with this crowd that is frustrated with the political and leadership status quo to the point of choosing someone who projects the image of radical change. He represents the closest to the revolutionary change we need without having to actually mount a bloody revolution or civil war by the people themselves. His tough stance and on criminality and no-nonsense talk on everything under the sun – including against any of the powers that be – appeals to their imagination. The question of propriety and whether it or not it is true or just a product of Duterte’s own imagination is irrelevant to this 20%. They just want Dirty Harry, and better if he cleans up after himself.

Mar Roxas’ 22% represents those who have benefited from the status quo. Mouthing the Daang Matuwid line of the current dispensation, most of these are the ones who have invested heavily – financially and/or emotionally – on PNoy and his government that they can see no other way to continue their lives any other way. The rest of the 22% may not have benefitted from the current administration, but they live in fear of change and do not wish to rock the vote absent any clear and distinct signal that their lives with definitely improve. Better the devil you know than the angel you don’t know.

Jojo Binay’s 26% is another variant of the devil you know. Shunning aside the heavily detailed corruption accusations – and we are constantly reminded, soon to be official charges – this core following of the former Makati Mayor and Vice President look to his past and the benefits his former constituents and supporters have derived. This small dark skinned man who has one of us, pulled himself off the clutches of poverty, has risen to power and now will pull us all up there with him. The fact that in his rise the few who have benefitted are still light-years away from the levels of his and his family’s status does not matter. Despite all that – perhaps even because of it – Binay represents the leadership that could get things done in start contrast to the current government. In a way he feeds the hope of this 26% that they too will someday have their birthday cake, free senior citizens’ movies and schoolbags for their kids.

Grace Poe’s 26%, on the other hand, is also fueled by hope – but this is hope in the purest form. These are people who have felt the opposite in the past six year of the PNoy administration, those who have wallowed in the despair of basic needs like mass transportation, adequate employment and improvement of lives not being met. These are the people who survived the horrors of Yolanda and were told they should be thankful they’re alive amid the lack of government aid coming their way. While perceived as inexperienced and having no track record of governance, Grace Poe represents a clean slate – a leadership with a chance for a fresh start, free from the blackness of a checkered past.

The question now is: how would this 26% take being deprived of this hope? How would they take being deprived of a choice – a popular choice if we are to go the way of this survey – in selecting their leader?

The connection between leadership and hope is a strong one, as I cited in one of my blog posts last year. Let me repeat it now, from “Why leadership matters” by Steve Keating:

Leadership has always mattered and it is inconceivable that there will be a time when it doesn’t. Perhaps no one has ever said it better than John Maxwell when he said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Everything!

Leadership matters because no one and nothing comes to success without it. Think about it: virtually every great accomplishment has at its core, solid leadership. When everything is going well it is leadership that keeps people from getting complacent. When things are going poorly it is leadership that rights the ship, it is leadership that sets the new course and it is leadership that provides hope.

One of the greatest things a leader can give their people is hope. People need hope, almost as much as air, food or water. Without hope effort stops and progress stops along with it. Leadership matters most in the absence of hope because experienced, authentic leaders will manufacture hope from despair. Leadership matters because where there is a lack of leadership despair will prosper

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