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“Can rights and values be universal if they seem, even after lengthy explanations of the communitarian case, to be rationed by a subset of rules about sovereign boundaries? Perhaps we should agree to think of rights and values as limited resources...” -- Jeremy Harding, “Europe at Bay,” London Review of Books 34(3), 2012
This coming Sunday, Sept. 15, the world is being invited by the United Nations (UN) to commemorate the International Day of Democracy. Since the adoption of Resolution 7 by the UN General Assembly during its 62nd Session in 2007, the UN has committed, in word and institutional deed, to “to focus attention on the promotion and consolidation of democracy at all levels and reinforce international cooperation in this regard.”
There is no shortage of anticipation in the lead-up to a scheduled 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA). The one this coming July 22 should be no exception. After all, the 4th SONA of any presidency occurs just a few months after the scheduled Midterm National and Local Elections. Any president, more so if his/her endorsed coalitions won with a comfortable margin, would take this opportunity not only to take pride in this, it will also try to build bipartisan confidence in order to pursue its agenda for the remaining three years -- unencumbered by the inflamed partisan attitudes fostered by the recently concluded fight.
In most democratic societies, midterm elections are seen not only as a referendum on the performance of a sitting government/political party. It may also determine to what extent can the current administration move forward unencumbered with its agenda -- or whether it will need to begin building bipartisan confidence in order to govern with its symbolic authority intact.
I had the opportunity to revisit Japan last Nov. 16-19 for the 2018 Philippine Studies Conference in Japan (PSCJ) in Hiroshima University. While I could have taken a direct flight to Hiroshima (give or take a layover to another country), circumstances compelled me to land in Kansai International Airport (KIX). From there, I took multiple train line transfers (including the Shinkansen) from KIX to my hotel in Hiroshima.
“All politics is local,” so the saying goes. This may give the impression that only the distribution of local goods and services matter to the regular voter. However, the person this is attributed to, the late American Speaker of the House Thomas Philip “Tip” O’Neill, was animated by a larger world view -- appealing to local concerns in order to advance a national economic policy agenda.