Monday, January 7, 2008

A Return to Normalcy

Warren Harding was the 29th President of the United States. During a campaign held in the aftermath of World War I, he focused his campaign promising a "return to normalcy". Normalcy is apparently what the American people wanted, and Harding won the 1920 presidential election by a landslide. He enjoyed immense popularity during his short tenure, which was ended by his death in 1923.

Today he is consistently ranked as one of the worst presidents in United States history.

His campaign mantra is mocked these days, but for all Harding's virtues and vices, a yearning for normality is something I can relate to. A healthy dose of normal certainly would certainly be a welcome and much-needed change of pace for the Philippines. In the past four decades we have had only one Philippine president whose tenure began and ended under normal democratic circumstances-- and that virtue alone is enough to generally consider his administration an oasis of rousing success.

Political turmoil has been such a lingering scab on our country that is has developed into one of its defining characteristics. Pretty much everyone acknowledges that the noise is not ideal for business, thus not healthy for the economy, and thus not good for Filipinos. That's why it sincerely worries me that so many of the names recently being thrown around for the 2010 presidential election are people who ride into the headlines by tearing others down, or by stoking the fires of discontent, or being fucking convicted of plunder.

What we need is someone inspiring, competent, post-partisan, with a strong positive message. We don't need a revolution, we just need someone to keep us on track, and convince us that we're on the right path so that we stay on it.

I don't know about the rest of the Filipino people, but I am downright homesick for the day I can open the newspaper without expecting a call to overthrow the government. If the next president could just get himself elected, serve his six years without coup attempts, and let go of power with the next election, history would judge him favorably. That would be normal. That would be good.

When things reach the point that the extraordinary becomes standard, a refreshing return to normalcy is just what we need.

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