The lament is familiar and stale, in fact the list is depressing: Too many students don’t care. Candidates fielded or endorsed by fraternities are the only candidates really capable of winning. Any regime change heralds spectacular conflict, one that derails necessary continuities rather than enforce checks-and-balances of power.

Such farce has sunk its talons deep into the heart of purported Honor and Excellence: how do we help fix the dysfunctions of Philippine democracy when we are unable to resolve those happening right here at home?

The UP Diliman student population is already a politicized body. But perhaps we should say it aloud: our youth can be poor caricatures of the old they vilify. With election-related fora being staged in preparation for the national midterm elections, we begin to fall back into the patterns of spectacle and compromise. We celebrate gloss and erudition, or we plan against defeat by installing into office those who inspire the least disgust.

We have failed to teach our youth to responsibly reject political narratives. We have privileged a display of love for country and fellowmen to such extent that we have handicapped actual critical choice.

Showing up to the polls and serving a polite political decline may be a better recourse than outright indifference. When you are in a grocery store, the purchase you don’t make–the product you considered and set back down–is a show of power as hefty and as formidable as having the right number of pesos in your purse.

This electoral season, we need to get more thinking feet inside the door. Despite our proud tradition of passionate political participation, we must confront and overcome those elements of political life we cede to fatigue and cynicism.

To willfully abstain–casting ballots with spaces left blank–is still to choose: it is the choice to say no to political aspirants who don’t make the cut, the choice to hand them more than an electoral defeat. It is the choice to reboot political consciousness and imagination, the choice to rip ourselves free of old unacceptable entanglements.

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