Of pushers, politicians, and presidents

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Greg B. Macabenta

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Of pushers, politicians, and presidents

A few weeks ago, I posted on Facebook two anti-drug abuse ads that I created back in 1972. The headline of one read, “Is a pusher paying more attention to your child than you are?” The other ad showed a father swigging a bottle of gin, while his son smoked marijuana. The headline bluntly stated, “One dope deserves another. If you want your kid to stop doing his thing, you can begin by stopping yours.”

I felt that, in today’s permissive environment, the importance of parental responsibility and parental example needed to be brought front and center.

Some readers have pointed out that pushers and parents are not the only culprits in the deterioration of moral values. According to them, politicians and presidents bear the onus, as well.

Indeed, pushers, politicians and presidents may be today’s “reverse role models” — and not just in the Philippines. It’s happening just as blatantly in America.

The Philippines has President Rodrigo Duterte and the US has President Donald Trump. Additionally, the Philippines has a kennel of legislative puppy dogs, while America has unabashed transactional politicians.


Sadly, there’s nowhere well-meaning parents can turn to spare their children from the criminal influence of drug pushers and the morally debilitating influence of politicians and presidents.

By the time this piece comes out, the results of the special senatorial election in Alabama will have been determined. The special election has been due to the vacancy created by the appointment of erstwhile Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to Attorney General (the US equivalent of the Philippines’ Secretary of Justice).

As of this writing, pollsters have said that the contest between Democratic candidate Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore is too close to call.

There’s more to this special election than being a toss-up between candidates of opposing parties in a predominantly Republican state, where President Donald Trump convincingly trounced Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections.

Moore, 70, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been accused by several women of being a sexual predator. He is said to have had sex with a 14-year-old girl, a criminal act. He also reportedly forced himself on a 16-year-old. These he did when he was in his early 30s and an assistant district attorney.

In the wake of the allegations against Moore, other instances of sexual harassment committed by prominent US politicians have hit the headlines. One senator and two congressmen have been forced to resign following public disclosure by the victims of their sexual misconduct.

However, in spite of the accusations against Moore, as well as a threat by some Republican senate leaders to subject Moore to an ethics gauntlet should he win, he enjoys a slight edge in the public opinion polls vs. the Democratic contender. Moore, who has denied the accusations, also has the support of the evangelicals in the state. This brings into question the moral values of the evangelicals, as well as that of the hardcore supporters of Moore.

What is even more eyebrow-raising is the fact that President Donald Trump has expressed his full support for Moore.

Trump himself has been accused by several women of being a sexual predator. While he has flatly denied the allegations, there are video and audio proof of his misconduct, including Trump’s recorded voice bragging about grabbing women on their private parts.

The accusations against Trump were made during the presidential campaign. He won anyway. Does this say something about the moral values of Trump’s supporters? Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.

If all these were happening in Philippine politics, that would hardly be hot news — or the stories would be very quickly suppressed (a tactic known as “suppress relations”).

Sadly, in our country, politicians and the public don’t give a damn about immorality. In fact, President Rodrigo Duterte and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez have been flaunting their extra-marital affairs.

Pundits attribute the situation in both the Philippines and the US to realpolitik. The decisions and choices of politicians are made based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.

Trump’s decision to throw his support behind Moore is obviously self-serving. Condemning Moore for sexual misconduct would boomerang on Trump. But the other reason is the fact that the Republicans cannot afford to lose a seat in the Senate where they hold a 54 to 44 edge over the Democrats, with two independent senators tending to side with the Dems. Some Republicans, like Senator John McCain, also tend to be mavericks.

The vow of Trump and the Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare — the controversial health care legislation passed during President Barack Obama’s administration — was stymied by the nay vote of McCain, in addition to the negative votes of some Republican senators.

The recent close vote in the US Senate on the sweeping tax reform bill (51 yeas and 49 nays) illustrate just how valuable every single vote is for each of the political parties. In other words, Moore may be the devil incarnate but, as far as Trump is concerned, he will be an ally and to hell with moral values.

If that sounds too much like Philippine politics, remember that Pinoy politicians learned their tricks and tactics from the Americans.

What, in fact, could be pointed out is that the Americans can now learn a few tricks and tactics from Malacañang and the Philippine Senate and House.

Such incentives as pork barrel funds to motivate solons to dance to the music of the President and such tricks as bribing senator judges to impeach a sitting chief justice may still be unheard of in Washington DC and Capitol Hill — but politicians of whatever race, nationality, or ideology are quick learners.

In the face of all these, I’m inclined to create a variation on the ad with the headline, “One dope deserves another.”

The subhead will read: “If you have a Duterte or Trump as your President, it’s all your fault.”


Greg B. Macabenta is an advertising and communications man shuttling between San Francisco and Manila and providing unique insights on issues from both perspectives.