Political Campaigns

Manila Bulletin, February 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

Political Campaigns


Official campaign season for the 2013 elections for local government positions will begin in a few weeks.

Of course, many would say that the "unofficial" campaign period had started a long time ago. The joke is the campaign period for the next election actually begins on the day the winner of the just-concluded elections is proclaimed officially.

Others say that the election campaign periods in the Philippines are much like our celebration of the Christmas season - both are the longest in the world.

On the other hand, such humorous views hold water only if one's definition of "campaign" is limited to vote-getting. After going through two campaigns of my own and the countless others I have helped out in, I discovered that a campaign experience is more than just trying to get more votes than the other guy.

There are two standard objectives of a political campaign.

One: Having as many of the voters know you. This is otherwise called "raising awareness."

Two: Making sure that as many as those who know you would actually vote for you and would want you to win over your rivals. This is otherwise known as "generating preference."

For many candidates, these two are the "essentials" - to be known and to be preferred. The campaign efforts make the two possible.

Sometimes, there is a third objective in a campaign: To make one's platform or proposed program known and to "sell" them to the voters. Unfortunately, a platform or program of government is viewed by many candidates as nothing more than a tool for achieving the second standard objective - generating preference. My fear is that many candidates know that most voters anchor their decision not on a platform. They vote for a candidate because they know the candidate and like him better than his rivals.

For me, personally, an election campaign - particularly in its modern-day form - is more than just vote-getting.

It is also an opportunity to listen.

It is also an opportunity to be humbled.

Times have changed and so have the formats of election campaigns. As a young boy, I saw politicians vie for public office. Both the atmosphere and the method of getting votes were rather different from what they are today. …

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