House of cards

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    AS a political junkie, the American TV series of this title was one I followed diligently (or at least for as long as I could). I loved the portrayal of politics as it is played in the United States, contrasting the ideals of the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution on the one hand with realpolitik. The planning, the plotting, the handshakes and the backstabbing.

    No political junkie could be left unmoved by the twists and turns in the all-so-real series.

    Politics is all about human relations, make no mistake about it. There’s politics in every family. There’s politics in every civic group. There’s politics in religious organizations. And of course there’s politics in government. It is the latter that has colored the way ordinary people react to the terms “politics,” “political,” or “politician.” And over the years that color has turned bleak if not black, as politics is seen in its most pejorative sense.

    What makes this more possible, if not inevitable, is the sense that when it comes to politics in government it is all about power and money and smoke and mirrors. It is about principles that are quickly shelved when political expediency calls for it; it is about alliances that are broken when the opportunity to advance one’s own interests arises. It is about men and women who claim public service is a thankless job but whose net worth increase by leaps and bounds with every passing year. It is about unaudited intelligence funds in the billions that are effectively pocket money that those in public office can take home without question, while public service languish for lack of funds and taxes are increased because of programs need to be funded.

    And, when all is said and done, it is the ordinary man on the street that is left holding an empty bag. As a wag once said, politics is all about hits and misses with the political class benefitting from the hits and the general public bearing the cost of the misses.

    The brouhaha surrounding the leadership of the House of Representatives is definitely not helping improve the image of politicians and of politics. To the ordinary viewer, it smacks of politicians fighting over position, not principles, wrestling each other for perks and power instead of values and vision.

    Politics is NOT per se an ugly or inescapable part of human life; we get things done day in and day out because politics – human relations – help make things happen. But politics as it is played by real life politicians (who, in the heat of their competition begin exposing each others’ dirty laundry) is what makes things ugly and forces many people to turn away. But this is where things get even uglier – when ordinary, decent people turn away from politics played in the public arena then they end up leaving the arena to the very players who have no qualms about advancing their interests in a manner where the ends justifies the means and power is the ultimate end.

    It’s fine watching a TV series because you can tune out whenever you’ve had enough for the moment. But when the House of Cards is no longer just a series but is reality that is an inescapable part of one’s life as a Filipino citizen, then you have to decide whether at the next possible opportunity you will do all that you can to help the more decent leaders trump the indecent.

    Are you game?

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