There are several parallels between the ongoing presidential race in the United States and our own upcoming presidential contest in 2010. And those vying for the Philippine presidency would do well to learn the lessons from the American race.
Both administrations are fairly unpopular, the Bush administration because of its focus on Iraq, among other issues, and the Arroyo administration because of the numerous scandals in which it has mired itself.
Both the American and Philippine opposition are perceived to be strong contenders to replace both current administrations.
And both opposition groups are divided enough that, in their battles for supremacy, each might simply ensure the incumbent administration’s victory in its respective presidential election.
In the U.S., Senators Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton continue to slug it out for the Democratic nomination, with few state primaries and caucuses remaining. While Obama appears to have the upper hand, both in the popular vote and the delegate count, Clinton managed to prove that she remains a force to reckon with, as her rather decisive victory in Pennsylvania last week showed.
However, both sides continue to attack each other’s weak spots, with Clinton’s camp resorting to fear tactics that are reminiscent of the way the Republican Party operates. On the other side, Obama continues to present a fresh choice for the electorate, although his recent primary setbacks, as well as his association with individuals of questionable character, have called into question whether he can unite the nation behind him.
The fight has gotten so acrimonious that supporters of both sides would rather vote for Republican Party candidate John McCain if their respective side won’t win the nomination. Worse, all the mudslinging going around from both camps is simply providing the Republican Party with enough ammo to attack whoever gets the Democratic Party nomination. As a result, unless either side backs down soon, whoever emerges might be so battered by the nomination process that neither Obama nor Clinton will be in any shape to face McCain.
In our country, thanks to our multiparty system, the various candidates need not go through a series of primaries and caucuses in order to clinch a nomination. Of course, that simply means that a candidate can just create his or her own political party, and run.
Unfortunately, a good number of those who have strong chances of winning the presidency come from the opposition, and, for now, at least, it doesn’t look like any of them are going to be backing down. The big names at this point appear to be Villar, Legarda, Roxas, and Lacson, and each has more or less stated, for now, at least, that it’s the presidency or nothing. If none of them will give way, then the likely scenario is that, as in 1998 when Joseph Estrada won by a so-called landslide, the opposition bets will divide the pool of anti-administration voters between themselves, paving the way for an administration victory.
Those planning to run in 2010 should keep a close eye on what happens in the Democratic convention, and the U.S. presidential elections, and make sure they learn from the experience. Otherwise, their campaign will be doomed to failure.