Some call it high moral ground. Others say strong moral authority. There are those who know it as moral ascendancy. They all mean essentially the same: The well felt moral persuasion of someone who is held beyond suspicion of evil design and malicious agenda. And blessed are those who wield moral ascendancy. This is especially applicable to those in tenure of a public office which is considered a public trust. The same has a particular relevance for someone who exercises no less than the highest executive office in the land.
It is rather easy for someone to govern when he or she enjoys the respect and confidence of the public. It is a matter of course for citizens to follow and abide by the biddings of their leader who lives with righteousness. Moral ascendancy is what connects the one governing and the governed, what cements their mutual appreciation and deference.
Moral degradation is the exact opposite. It is both a sad and pitiful spectacle to behold followers making fun, doing odious effigies, texting bad jokes about their leader. But it is even more lamentable and pathetic when the leader concerned appear unconcerned an unmoved by such degrading actions and disrespectful reactions.
Herein lies the fundamental socio-political predicament of the Malacañang President. There is the common perception that it is much more important for her to be practical than to be moral in what she plans and does. It appears to many that she seems more preoccupied in keeping armed power than in having moral authority.
The result of her perceived lack of moral ascendancy is predictable. Her motives and plans, her programs and projects are met, rightly or wrongly, with suspicion and rejection. She may want to lead but it is not followed. She may be working hard but to no avail. Unless a leader enjoy even but the semblance of moral ascendancy, the leadership is doomed to fail from the very start. This is the basic premise of the big and lasting socio-political liability of the proclaimed—not acclaimed—President.
O.V. Cruz, D.D.
4 January 2006