The basic lesson of the emerging senate campaign is, the middle (read: the middle class) does not count, politically. Neither the administration (ritual displays of independent thinking to the contrary notwithstanding) nor the opposition has shown any signs of accommodating the Center in its slates, how they were put together, or how they will campaign.
There’s lip service, of course: the dynasty issue is being fanned by Palace propagandists, but shrugged off by the opposition leadership, which knows the issue won’t catch fire with the non middle class voters; the Center is shrill about actors but its bluff has been called by the Palace, which knows for every middle class vote it loses, it gains many more by running the likes of Richard Gomez. Read Jove Francisco to see what I mean. Besides which, the President has perfected retail wheeling and dealing.
The Center has served its purposes for the Palace, it now reaps what it sowed in sticking by her side. It simply has to keep cultivating the Stockholm syndrome that’s served it so well, to keep the Center a prisoner of its own biases. It’s slap and tickle, but in the end all for show. If hearing the new Defense Secretary frankly state a reversal of course for the armed forces doesn’t trouble you, I don’t know what will. Even his appointment, as the Inquirer editorial points out, is troubling.
Two years ago I said, the Center must hold. It didn’t – instead, it’s shriveled up, politically, while the New People’s Army (see the Time cover story, The Philippines’ Unending Guerrilla War), for example, has grown and by some accounts, reached its pre-1986 strength once more; it’s once more on the offensive, militarily, and even morally, as a persecuted minority. So the middle is not a not a player in the coming elections, and on the periphery, the radical option regains ground. Political extinction in three years is quite a feat -as is military resurrection.