[Blueboard] GMA's Decision-making Style: Threat to Democracy
polsci at admu.edu.ph
polsci at admu.edu.ph
Fri Oct 10 09:46:03 PHT 2003
GMAs Decision-making Style: Threat to Democracy
Lydia N. Yu-Jose
Department of Political Science
President Gloria M. Arroyo finally put an end to speculations about her plans
for Election 2004. She finally announced that she would join the presidential
race. The initial reaction of many believers in the value of palabra de honor
(word of honor) is that she does not have it. She may be criticized for not
being a good model because she does not possess this traditionally, although
usually broken moral value. Nowadays it is not only politicians who are wanting
of this, but common mortals as well.
But the dangers in the Presidents style of making decisions, demonstrated by
her turning back on her previous decision, are not this lack of word of honor.
The dangers are her seeming penchant for discerning Gods will and her tendency
towards independent decision-making.
Ones decisions, promises, and pronouncements, although not exactly like ones
findings or conclusions in a scientific research, are still close to it. In a
scientific research, the scholar makes objective observations before making his
conclusion. The scholar may be proven wrong by succeeding events. As a
scientist, he should therefore change his conclusion, instead of stubbornly
holding unto it.
It may be presumed that the President did her own observations of the situation
of a few months ago, and based on that, decided not to run for president,
surprising almost everyone. It may be presumed too that she did her own
evaluation of the developments after announcing that she was out of the
presidential race, and concluded that her previous conclusion was wrong. It is
just right, therefore, for her to change her mind, and to run for president in
2004. Sticking to her previous pronouncement only for the sake of palabra de
honorwould be an irrational act.
The problem, therefore, is not her first decision not to run, not her second
one, which is not to run, and neither is it in her being fickle minded. The
problem is in the way she makes and announces her decisions.
The first problem can be detected in her speech delivered upon her being sworn
into the presidency by virtue of the fact that she was vice-president, and that
the president had been ousted from power. Among the things she said was that it
was divine grace or will that catapulted her to the presidency. Such a
pronouncement smacks of the so-called divine right of kings of the 18th
century age of absolutism.
There is nothing wrong about the Presidents giving credit to God for her being
president. After all, it is true (at least for us believers) that nothing
happens without Gods permission. There is nothing wrong about her tendency to
seek divine guidance. And, making public announcements about this is a rational
political act, considering the strong influence of religion in our society. As
Machiavelli said, it is a wise strategy to be perceived as religious,
regardless of whether you are really so or not.
However, the danger in the Presidents penchant for directly (it seems)
communicating with God is that no one can really empirically know Gods will.
And since no one can really know it, anyone can say that something is Gods
will, and if he were in power, like the infamous Louis XIV of France, he could
impose it on the people. No one, except someone who could also claim Gods
divine grace, could contradict him.
The second danger is her penchant for independent, personal discernment. The
President said in her announcement to join the 2004 presidential race that she
arrived at this decision through her own discernment. Although she did not
clearly admit in her previous contrary announcement the same thing, the mere
fact that she surprised almost everyone shows that she also arrived at it
through her own discernment. To put it in simple terms, she did not consult
anyone. The President indeed has displayed independence, usually an admirable
virtue, but not in this case. The President seems to have forgotten that in a
democracy, consultation is a more transparent and acceptable way of making
decisions, rather than personal discernment.
Discerning Gods will and making independent decisions through ones own
discernment may be more appropriate for decisions in private and personal
lives. Keeping the concerned in suspended speculation and giving surprise
announcements may be exciting on a personal, private level. But all these do
not have a place in public decisions that affect the whole country. The
President is responsible to the people for the affairs of the government. The
presidency is not her own estate, about which she can make decisions based on
her own personal discernment and communication with God. The affairs of the
government involve the people, the international community, the opposition
parties, and her own party. What is good for the government and the people is a
matter that should be decided by the people, the opposition party, the
administration party, etc. through open communication and consultation.
The Presidents tendency to give credit to God for her presidency is a threat
to democracy. Her penchant for making personal discernment is also a threat.
Democracy thrives in freedom of information, consultation, fair play, and the
recognition that a public official owes his position to the electorate. All
these cannot be had by invoking divine grace, and by consulting only ones
conscience for discernment. Much less can they be had by making surprise
announcements, as she did when she said she would not run for the presidency.
Her most recent announcement to the contrary was not much of a surprise, but
still, her admission that it was a result of her personal discernment makes
light of the democratic process of consultation and fair play.
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