I’ve been thinking of writing something longer and more incisive on the subject of the themes of this election. But, for now Binay’s rise to prominence is a perfect vehicle to touch on one of themes I noticed. Namely, Camelot as a campaign.
The dominant theme of this election was Camelot: hope, change and goodness. Noynoy was able to sell that message quite effectively. Genetics and borrowed aura played a huge part in it, but that does not necessarily explain his dominant victory; or the second place finish of Erap.
Noynoy and his campaign crafted a campaign message grounded on hope and built on a response to the collapse of the Philippines over the last 10 years. Erap as well was able to effectively campaign on this premise. EDSA II has become a regret, and Erap (compared to GMA) has begun smelling of roses. While he did not have the traction to overtake the message of Aquino, his themes of pro-poverty and anti-GMA resonated. Not only that, but part of the collapse of Villar can be traced to Erap becoming more prominent; and people remembering the role Villar played in Erap’s downfall.
Noynoy and Erap sold, in varying degrees, Camelot to the people. Binay, who has always been identified with Cory Aquino and being a vehement critic of GMA, is the Mayor of Makati. For many Filipinos (and I say this with just a touch of irony) Makati and it’s Golden Ghettos is as close to Camelot as the Philippines has. It is difficult to counter the physical reality of wealth and achievement, with the relatively ephemeral achievements of successful economic policies.
Binay sold the Dream of Makati; and he had the apparent credentials to back it up. Namely, many of his pro-poor programs such as the Senior Citizen’s card, an innovation that began in Makati. Roxas, while having much more impressive credentials vis-a-vis job creation and encouraging foreign investment (the Father of Outsourcing and PEZA), could not sell that as an tangible vision.
In the end, this election (like 1953 and 1986) was the story of moral and collective calls to action in response to the current administration. - with the vision of a Philippine Camelot as the achievable dream for all.
For Noynoy, Camelot came in the form of honesty, integrity and continuing the work of his sanctified parents - the two who became the figureheads in the movements to tear-down a corrupt dictator. While Roxas would have been the perfect candidate to work reforms in the Philippines, he did not come with the built-in resonance that Binay possesses. For Binay, his connection to Erap (and Erap’s newly minted status as bad-but-not-as-bad-as-GMA), his connection to Cory Aquino, the relatively unknown status of his personal wealth and his stature as leading Makati all became contributing factors in his apparent rise to the top of the partial post-election returns.