His most loyal supporters thrust and harp on the credentials and qualifications that make him who he is: 33 years of executive experience, two terms as Mayor of Olongapo City, 1971 Con-Con delegate, Subic Bay Metropolitan Area Chairman, Secretary of Tourism, 40 years of volunteer work for the Philippine National Red Cross, six years in the Senate, 270 authored bills and resolutions, 13 enacted laws. In one long sentence, that’s Richard Gordon.
In many respects, Richard “Dick” Gordon should be a contender, if not the contender, for the most powerful position in Philippine politics. If the Presidency is all a matter of credentials and qualifications – as some of his most loyal supporters believe – then Gordon should have the two leading contenders quaking in their boots. Gordon has it all: the administrative and legislative background needed to run a country, and lead it to progress. Gordon took up the challenge and made his bid.
Yet perhaps the most qualified man with all the credentials needed to run a country, command the votes of millions, and earn the mandate of a nation is at the bottom of the surveys (which, again, to his most loyal supporters, do not matter). Richard Gordon is not doing well: the lack of machinery, the lack of funding, and adopting into technology too little, too late. The way things are looking now, Dick Gordon is not poised to win the Presidency anytime soon. Gordon is not jockeying for position with the likes of Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar, but the scraps that fall up from the table with Jamby Madrigal, Eddie Villanueva, and Nicanor Perlas.
Gordon is definitely no longer a contender. Then again, I can be wrong: Gordon can be the dark horse of the 2010 Presidential race. That all begs us to ask: why?
Some people are quick to blame the average Filipino voter, as if he or she is not discerning or critical to “pick the right choice.” Some people think that the people are not ready for the “Gordon style” of leadership; which all-too-often reminds me (and a couple of other voters) of taking the metal bowls and utensils, and shoving them into the furnaces by the side of the tracks if progress requires it. The issues of the days of “Mr. Shareman” still haunt Gordon, as well as his grave oversights in Ondoy and Pepeng. Some see him – unfortunately – as the boastful hectoring loudmouthed egomaniacal uncharismatic demagogue of aggressive development, whose blind, driven ambition seeks the Presidency by any means necessary; blind and oblivious to every Mt. Rushmore in the way that begs him to stop, look, and think about it.
To be fair to Gordon, his bid and his platform is the cold, hard reality of what politics should be. If Gordon’s stellar executive record is to show anything, we should vote for – and for that matter we should have – candidates who can throw a CV at Gordon’s way and trump him for every single achievement he has. In a perfect world, people would be swapping credentials and platforms instead of trading barbs and swipes at every medium known to modern society. Yet the reality of any democratic exercise in a free nation rears its ugly head: that winning the Presidency is more than a one-man show. It is called “machinery” for a reason: it is the vehicle that drives the campaign, more than personal will and the cheering of the few. Without that machinery, without that way to make support visible and convert as many persons into voting for Gordon, he will be pummeled in the canvassing: bloody, with a lot of guts thrown in.
All this shows the dark underbelly of a seemingly invincible Dick Gordon: a man without a Senate slate, a man whose Bagumbayan party exists solely to promote the persona of Dick Gordon at this juncture, a man who neither has the money or the campaign infrastructure to spread his message to every voter in the Philippines. A man who spread his Twibbons too late on a Twitter account made too late, a man who capitalizes on his impact on blogs and Facebook at a time when people already made up their minds, instead of using the medium as a way to help people make up their minds.
For a guy who knows the down-and-the-dirty of gaming the system to his advantage, he played with bad hands, took bad draws, and dropped bad deals: the thunder of Gordon may be loud and clear in blogs and in his home city of Olongapo, but anywhere else it’s the lightning-like message of Noynoy, and the LSS-inducing aftershocks of Villar’s jingle. It’s not that people don’t care: if the surveys show anything, people are not aware.
Such is Gordon: a driven man without a machine. Machinery: even people like Barack Obama needed it. Winning the Presidency is not of Arthurs lifting swords from rocks, or Dick Whittingtons giving up their cats to Fitzwarrens. Gordon risks losing his campaign without it, and if the surveys tell anything, he already did. Gordon brings up the bottom of the surveys because he doesn’t have machinery, visibility, and money: things that we all probably dismissed as evil, but in a race as dirty as politics, all the more necessary.
Every supporter of Dick Gordon must now amp up their efforts, take it to levels above the next few ones, and run Gordon’s footrace with all they have. I urge every Gordon supporter: convince everyone you know to vote for Dick Gordon. Spread his message on foot, by car, on every person you know on the bus or on the trains, where the votes really matter.
Do not expect this to be the “social media miracle;” the slow-burn that it is makes it too little, too late. Put up the posters, print out the flyers, donate to his campaign chest if need be. If he, indeed, is the most qualified man with the best credentials to run for President, the time has come for every Dick Gordon supporter to do his or her part to make the campaign work for him. It cannot be achieved by mudslinging or by highlighting every other flaw of the candidates that lead over him: people must know about Dick Gordon all over the Philippines in the next 20 or so days.
How one runs a grassroots campaign in 20 days, I do not know. The only other alternative is for Gordon to make a well-oiled machine out of Bagumbayan, cut his losses, and wait for 2016. By then he should make himself more known, he should spread his message better, and he should be able to make the Philippines ready for his comeback by then. Yet all that will be in vain if he’s kulelat come May 2010.
If credentials and experience are all that matters, Gordon should be the next President of the Philippines. Yet in a country where democracy functions more as a show of hands than giving your CV to the hands of potential employers waiting for that call to take up a desk job, Gordon’s campaign still has a living, breathing chance of making a miraculous comeback.
If Gordon is who a President should be, then his campaign must transform to the way it should be.