‘Eyes wide shut’ politics injectableorange.com

‘Eyes wide shut’ politics Featured

“In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics”. All issues are political issues and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” – George Orwell, English novelist and noted language critic

SUCH unflattering Orwellian description of politics should sound off phlegmatic leaders to the kind of pervasive rottenness that eats into the fabric of our political system. But I doubt if they, save for a few exceptions, possess a collective conscience for self-abnegation that allows them to rectify or redirect their energies with a genuine regard for public service. Most would take advantage of the weak links that sustain their hold to power. Like the populace they are sworn to serve, grown weak and weary of grandstanding, sweet-talking, manipulative politicians, they remain largely apathetic to the affairs of the state, allowing “lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia”, with “eyes wide shut”, to permeate the system which has become a “self-perpetuating mockery of democracy”.

The phrase “eyes wide shut”, an oxymoron word-play, is culled from a Stanley Kubrick movie of the same title which intrigued me as applying to naïve people showing ignorance to the obvious or who persist in their beliefs with a closed mind even if being shown wrong. I thought this closedmindedness aptly describes both political leaders and electors who tenaciously hold to their positions “all the while fully aware of the perils or dubious outcome” of their manifest indifference. Traditional politicians wield power using money and patronage as magic wands to win votes despite electoral laws that prohibit the practice. They know they can skirt around the law such as campaigning or spending more than the allowed limit before the official election period. Voters choose to keep a blind eye to questions of qualifications and competence in exchange for favorable considerations such as money, jobs or medical assistance quite aware that the practice is tolerated under unenforced laws. This is an uptake of a political phenomenon known in psychology as “cognitive dissonance and backfire effect” which basically describes a theory proposed by Leon Festinger, an American social psychologist.

Cognitive Dissonance

He said that “people have an innate desire to ensure their beliefs and behavior are consistent with one another. A contradiction between these leads to internal strife which people fervently try to avoid.” Among the factors which influence the degree to which an individual experiences cognitive dissonance (inner conflict) are beliefs about self or other thoughts which are very personal tending to result in greater dissonance. “In general, the greater the dissonance, the greater the pressure there is to relieve the feelings of discomfort generated by this dissonance.” Voters being told that certain favored candidates are charged with corruption and other malfeasance would certainly have an effect on their egos and beliefs and create a resulting cognitive bias known as the “backfire effect”.

The Backfire Effect

“When faced with evidence that causes an individual to doubt their beliefs, stubbornness along with the effects of cognitive dissonance cause people to latch onto their current belief system and defend it with fervor. What is more, beyond rejecting the new evidence, the individual may then go on to strengthen support for their belief system. This strengthening of support is cognitive bias known as the “backfire effect.” Like turtles retreating inside their shells. Now we may have the answer on why people tend to “justify” their preferences of candidates running for elective office even if presented with overwhelming evidence of lack of ability and/or absence of adequate experience or records of wrongdoing. They would reason in effect, “these are my choices and there’s nothing you can do about it,” period.

We can’t keep our eyes wide shut to the political realities in our country. Politics is not an inherited trait that runs through our genes but rather a gradual learning process that we acquire everyday of our lives. Unconsciously, we breathe, think and act politics. The relative peace we enjoy, the opinions, proposals and decisions we and our leaders make, contribute to the propagation of democratic politics in our midst. We live in an organized society, as a group of individuals sharing common interests and values even as we compete for leadership of this group. This is what politics is all about. We can’t be close-minded keeping off the decision-making processes of our government. Our indifference and apathy may lead us to an abysmal existence like thoughtless lemmings on a consensual suicide.

We can’t close our eyes absolutely sick of glaring flaws in the political and electoral system now brazen in the extremes as for example using defective and discredited vote counting machines (VCM). Imagine winning elections through pre-programmed computer software making it harder to trace fraud. They even have the gall to call their machinations as “smart”. I daresay its non-traceability made those infernal machines acceptable to that agency considered by some as the most corrupt constitutional body in the country. PRRD promised to eradicate the system for next elections. Will the lawmakers accommodate him?

There is no “keeping off politics.” If elections are used as a benchmark, with voter turnouts averaging above 70 percent (slightly higher in presidential polls), that is over 40 million voters out of over 60 million base which have registered in 2019, it can be realistically assumed that so far as that goes, Filipinos are indeed politically wired and willing political participants who can decide, for better or worse, the future of this country. The rest may have to suffer through their stations in life with eyes pathetically wide open and mouths agape.

They say that those who neglect their social and political duties end up being governed by underlings.000
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