Saturday, September 5, 2009

What if Noynoy says "No"?

“That, in fact, is the power of the imagination, which, combining the memory of gold with that of mountain, can compose the idea of a golden mountain.” – Umberto Eco in The Name of the Rose.

I can imagine what Noynoy and his sisters are going through. The political developments went so rapidly and now Noynoy, as he wrestles with conflicting forces pulling on him, must be thinking thoughts like those of Macbeth:

Why do I yield to such suggestion

Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair

And make my seated heart knock at my ribs

Against the use of nature? Present fears

Are less than horrible imaginings.

Cory, of course, went through a similar struggle; but in her case it was a protracted decision process aided by a small group whose main objective was to unite the opposition against President Macos.

As early as 1984 a group of private citizens, non-politicians all, had been regularly meeting to explore what could be done about the national situation. As one member of the group used to say, “What if . . .?” One concrete product of those meetings was the formation of the organization Manindigan! which until now still makes an occasional foray into public issues. As talk about the deteriorating health of President Marcos and about the possibility of a sudden presidential election grew louder, the meetings began to center around a “fast track” approach to choosing a presidential candidate. Indeed, there were known wannabes.

The concrete shape the discussion took was the formation of the “Convenor Group” composed of Lorenzo TaƱada, Cory Aquino and Jaime Ongpin. The legitimacy of the mandate of the group was challenged and even ridiculed by not a few. But eventually the “Convenor Group” succeeded in forging a consensus among oppositionists to draft Corazon C. Aquino as the common presidential candidate.

In the many discussions of the Convenor Group among themselves and also with a larger support group, it became evident that only Cory Aquino could win the support of all oppositionists. I doubt that Cory would have consented to run if she knew that she did not have the support of all. When she did decide to run, it was clear to her that the contest would be one on one: Aquino vs. Marcos.

At the time when Cory decided to run, Noynoy, I believe, was old enough to appreciate the agony his mother had to go through. He was also old enough to understand what persuaded her to make the plunge. I am sure that Noynon, looking back now, also realizes that, during the time of his mother, there was no one else strong enough to mount a campaign against the incumbent. In the end, all of them were willing to give up their ambition to support Cory. They realized after all that no one else would receive the suppot of all.

I am sure Noynoy in his retreat also wondered how many of the oppositionists would sacrifice their ambition to support him. I too am wondering about that especially now that our open party system has encouraged many to join the electoral contest.

Mar Roxas, Noynoy’s friend, has received praise for making his sacrifice. There is a point to that and Mar must have agonized over his decision. But there are also those who would downplay his sacrifice. Mar after all was far from being a front runner. It was not as if he was offering the prize to Noynoy on a silver platter.

Panlilio and Padaca are also prepared to make the sacrifice and give way to Noynoy. But I am not sure how much of a sacrifice that would mean.

Noynoy in his retreat must have asked God, “Will the stronger contenders be willing to give way to me?”

Will Noynoy’s decision depend on te answer from the Christian Delphic oracle? Or will the oracle answer the question at all? Providence might simply arrange a one on one contest for him as it happened for his mother?

But, to go back to my original question, what if Noynoy declines? If he does, for sure, the Liberal Party will have a problem. The party had banked on Mar Roxas but Roxas has chosen to retreat. Indeed, if Noynoy declines, Roxas, it seems to me, would have to resurrect his plans if he is to avoid the possible charge that he had used the clamor for Noynoy as a way out of a contest he could not win. If Roxas resurrects his plans, he will have gained points by his support for Noynoy.

What will 2010 be like? Back in 1986 it was so much easier to decide who to vote for. Now we are faced with a collection of choices who do not exactly make a tempting smorgassbord.

Our choice would be much easier if we could find among the wannabes someone who fits the description, mutatis mutandis, of Ted Kennedy by E.J.Dionne Jr. Dionne writes: “Ted Kennedy was treasured by liberals, loved by many of his conservative colleagues, revered by African Americans and Latinos, respected by hard-bitten political bosses, admired by students of the legislative process, and cherished by those who constituted the finest cadre of staff members ever assembled on Capitol Hill.

“The Kennedy paradox is that he managed to be esteemed by almost everyone without ever becoming all things to all people. He stood for large purposes, unequivocally and unapologetically, and never ducked tough choices. Yet he made it his business to get work done with anyone who would toil along with him. He was a friend, colleague, and human being before he was an ideologue or partisan, even though he was a joyful liberal and an implacable Democrat.”

6 September 2009