Oct 5, 2010

What We Are Looking For In These Elections

by Fil-Am Observer Staff

Thousands of people will troop to the polls this November and will decide on who should run the affairs of our public life in this state.

But even as we write this, we think of how the results of the elections will turn out.

The Obama presidency, analysts say, was made possible because of the engagement of the young people—the young voters who quickly understood the need to change course in the way the nation was being run, with wars in other countries in the name of democracy and human freedom.

While these ideals are what makes the United States a beacon of the morally good—its standing unquestionable in the community of nations and nation-states—some have begun to question where the country is headed to, what with billions of dollars being infused in the coffers of financial institutions and in the coffers of organizations and agencies tasked to make the war efforts one of efforts at real peace and quiet in other lands.

Hawaii during the past two years has had its share of the burdens of the nation, with federal funds shrinking, and with deficits in the budget that forced officials to cut down on schooling days and on public service hours.

The road to recovery has not been paved—and the rough surface shows. The ride has been a bumpy one, with humps strewn all over.

Now come these elections in November.

It is a political ceremony, a ritual of decision-making that presumably rests on peoples and their capacity to choose the best next leader from a list of those who are willing and able to serve in the name of the common good.

But while it is an ordinary ceremony because it does not involve invocations of the divine, it is sacred as it invokes the faith of people in democracy, their faith in the justness of societal contract, and their approval of processes necessary to cloth someone with the power to lead.

Jeffrey Acido, program director of Nakem Youth, and himself an active partner in community building work across Oahu, tells of the urgency of choosing the next best leader from the list of those who will be able to do more for the community, for youth programs, for education, this last one particularly for popular and community education.

“In the past,” he says, “past administrations had been talking about the good and the sweet things on education and what they can do to improve it. I am aghast that one of the first to get a budget cut is education itself. How are we to pursue the ends of an empowered populace when our people are deprived of the very right to get a proper education? And to think that those that were deprived of more quality days inside the classroom are the younger students whose basic education serves as the backbone for the life-long educations that we should do in this country.”
“I am thinking of a governor that can speak to us in frankness,” he explains. “He must be the governor that not only will say the right things but a governor who knows what is in store for this state given the tremendous challenges we are going through.”

These qualifications are not only exacting but carry a lot of weight for voters like Acido who has strong connections to various community programs and alternative programs for the young people of Hawaii.

In Hawaii, there is a tremendous energy coming from the young people but this energy has yet to be tapped and turned into real votes, analysts tell us.

But with more and more young people getting involved in the rituals of political campaigns and in the ceremonies of anointing who could best represent us in the corridors of power and make sure that these corridors are not going to be only for the powerful but passageways for the everyday persons in order for them to have access to leaders, the demographics is changing slowly.

In the streets are young Filipinos who have come to understand the power of mobilizing the resources of the community in order to get the message of electing the right people across.

Reflecting on the vast possibilities of the November elections, Glenda Duldulao, a student pursuing her masters in urban and regional planning at the University of Hawaii, says that she can only think of the governor and other leaders as essentially “pro-people.” By that she means that these leaders must have the people skills to link up with even the person on the street, that they must know what is happening down the road, that they have only “the public interest in mind and not their own selfish interest. They do not have that, they don’t deserve to win even if they are running.”

Duldulao relies on a track record of public service, a proof of what leaders can do to the community and to the state. “Without that tract record—or what passes for one—I do not think that it is even worth imagining what any leader can do in office.”

“I want a leader who can connect to the community,”
Duldulao adds. “That leader must be able to read the pulse of the public, understand what the people need and want, and able to respond to these signals in light of commitment and goals that must be pursued. The public ends—these are what they are here for, the leaders—are not to be negotiated nor traded with something else.”

With these voices of the young people, what our community is looking for in a leader is exactly what they have in mind: people-mindedness.

It is going to be Catch-22 situation in these elections and after given the scarce resources—given all the challenges that come with governance during the time of recession.

But the elections are called for not because of the politicians’ wishes but because of their feverish hope for the young—those who will see to it that this country will remain a great one.

This state needs only to listen to these voices.

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