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OPINION: We need to stop calling politicians “stupid”

OPINION: We need to stop calling politicians “stupid”

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As a Filipino, there’s nothing more frustrating than watching events unfold in our political arena. Embarrassing mistakes have become the norm for “public servants,” no matter the administration. If every Filipino earned a peso for every mockery that corrupt government officials make of their post, poverty would long be gone. 

There’s a word that floats around every time one of these officials mess up: “stupid.” 

Netizens’ reactions usually range from “How could they think of this? They’re so stupid!” to “Oh my god! Ang bobo talaga.” In the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Letters section,  a reader contends in an opinion piece entitled “Politics and stupidity,” that “The stupidity of many voters result in stupid candidates getting elected into office.”

Photo courtesy of Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Personally, I disagree with the sentiment. I don’t think voters are stupid. Disinformed and disenfranchised, definitely, but not stupid. More importantly, though, I don’t think politicians are stupid. 

I know it sounds insane (and you’re probably already calling me stupid), but bear with me here. We need to stop calling corrupt politicians “stupid,” and here’s why. 


The implications of stupidity

By definition, “stupidity” is “behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment.” If stupidity implies the lack of good sense or judgment, that means there’s room for plausible deniability in the actions of corrupt politicians and government officials. 

Take the latest installment in the mañanita saga, for example. A high-profile celebrant has been promoted to the highest position in the nation’s police force, even though he’s a quarantine violator whose social gathering observed little to no COVID-19 safety protocol. Hell, he’s even been absolved of all wrongdoing by the person holding the highest office in the land. 

Photo courtesy of bertholdbrodersen on Pixabay 

It would be so easy to call this move stupid. So so easy. But it’s not. 

These corrupt government officials aren’t stupid. They’re just pretending like they are to get away with all the things they’ve done. Undermining their intelligence diminishes their culpability in the crimes they’ve committed. It’s like we’re making excuses for their sinister actions against the Filipino people. 


So if not stupid, what can we call it? 

Chalking up their actions to mere stupidity takes away the greed, malice and ill-intent that go into what they’ve done. Honestly, calling them stupid isn’t enough to describe the shortsighted, evil and self-serving acts they’ve committed to get ahead. All at the expense of the Filipino people. 

These corrupt government officials aren’t stupid. They’re just pretending like they are to get away with all the things they’ve done.

Instead of stupid, call them what they are: Cunning, self-serving, cruel, careless, calculating, awful, corrupt, terrible and morally bankrupt are a good start.

If all else fails, trapo works just fine.



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ART LEVENSPIEL SANGALANG © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.