“Always vote for principle, though you mat vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” – John Quincy Adams
Six years ago, I was already allowed to vote. I was 18 and was in my first year of college, and I remember being asked by my grandmother who is blind to register. I didn’t heed her advice and I didn’t practice that right, and frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t. Instead, I watched on the sidelines as GMA was installed as the 14th President of the Republic of the Philippines. I don’t mean to say that my vote would have made the difference, because eventually, Garci came out. Suddenly the focus wasn’t on voting right anymore. It was on counting the votes right. And we know that didn’t exactly happen as the controversy later proved.
Six years later, I encounter people who say they will not vote largely because of the Garci incident. There are many reasons people out there don’t vote (“Pare-pareho lang sila, importante pa ba ngayon yun?”) but for a number of people, the reason they don’t vote is because they think they will be cheated anyway. And you don’t know how many times I’ve encountered people like that. Not only have they given up hope for our country, they have also given up their right to impact it. On the one hand, the argument is valid. Why should I vote when it runs the risk of being cheated anyway? On the other hand, that only takes on a defeatist and critical attitude in this whole electoral process. The country tried to restore people’s belief by automating the elections, a first for us. Vote-rigging may not necessarily be wiped out, but to an extent, it will be lessened. There are also institutions and organizations that keep close and vigilant watch over the process, ensuring that our votes will be guarded. Methinks people who don’t vote based on cheating fears are poorly misinformed and ignorant: nothing in this world is ever safe, that’s right. But that’s why we do the best we can to counter and safeguard it. And besides, hope is a good thing. Quoting Dale Carnegie, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
So I wasn’t cynical and I didn’t let this deter me from exercising my right. And I did just that yesterday, May 10, a historic event for all of us. Not only did I vote, I also made sure I vote on principle and not bank on a candidate’s winnability.
Yes, I voted for Sen. Gordon. As the results were being transmitted and tallied, I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t even Top 5. I didn’t have any fears of cheating whatsoever. Mostly, it was really just disbelief because while he’s not been doing well on surveys (and I agree with him that surveys to an extent condition the minds of the voters), I did think he had a fair chance and can get a good enough number. But to be so behind and lagging poorly, I was dismayed but only for the results.
As to the way my friends and I voted, I am deeply proud because we all voted on principle. I said that this was my first time to vote, and to me that carried a big responsibility. I did not want to vote based on who’s popular (and who was being endorsed by which celebrity), who’s most likely to win, who is the opposite of the current regime (although that’s a good basis). I also wanted someone who was competent, someone who can lead our country, transform us into better citizens. Do I believe Gordon can do that? Absolutely. He and Gibo were my frontrunners.
Come to think of it, I don’t think we lost. The whole purpose of voting is to express our decision and preference for (1) a candidate running for office, (2) a proposal/resolution/advocacy. That implies an act on our part to know as much as we can about the candidate or the proposal. We don’t vote for a candidate just because he’s popular —that doesn’t exactly say we know him well. We vote a candidate because we know his platform, we’ve read his track record, we know his competencies, we have confidence in his abilities. We vote for a candidate because we share a common sentiment and stand on issues important to us —development, education, and the like. We vote a particular candidate because he represents us and our interests. If that’s how people voted this elections, regardless of their candidates, then they did themselves and their country proud: they voted right.
Sad to say, many Filipinos don’t actually vote because of these things. They didn’t research, they didn’t try to get to know their candidate well, and, well, what can I say? We toppled a President, convict him a criminal, and elect him again to power? The logic of that escapes me.
But as for the National Elections that happened just yesterday, I stand by my vote. Win or lose, I am for Richard Gordon. My vote IS and WAS not wasted on him.