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The dirty job that makes democracy work

Sass Rogando Sasot: “The idealists are afraid of Duterte. But we realist political philosophers know this very well: Order is a dirty business; and without order, there can’t be no democracy. Nobody wants to do the dirty work. Duterte is telling us he can, he will, and fuck you. My mouth is dirty, Duterte tells us, but I will give you a clean government.”

A lot of well-meaning people are ashamed, nervous, and disgusted by the way Rodrigo Duterte responded to Australia. “Stay out,” he said. Such boldness coming from a brown man, a lumpen-proletariat as how one Filipino political analyst characterised Duterte, telling his white bourgeoisie superiors to bugger off. However, the same people were angry recently at the United Nations, after the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that former president Arroyo is arbitrarily detained. Malacañang Palace also said: Stay Out. However, unlike Duterte, the language Malacañang Palace used is less abrasive: “only a Philippine court can decide on such matters.”

Different form and actors, but same message: Stay Out. When the fig leaf of power lifts, hypocrites abound.

Duterte is making us confront the dirty side of democracy. He is really indeed Du-dirty, as he is often called. We are so used to a candy floss image of democracy: chattering classes that talk like how they do in Batibot; no middle fingers allowed. We are so used to seeing the fig leaf of democracy and the white collar workers running its bureaucracy. That’s your Roxas, Binay, Santiago, and Poe. However, behind that leaf is a scandalous vagina, a penis that makes people blush. There are blue and brown collar workers making democracy work. There’s A LOT of dirty work to be done in order to polish the shoes of Demokratia. When the gutter of democracy comes into full view, everyone trembles and screams: It’s the end of democracy! Remember when the full extent of the spy network of the United States was exposed? Rage everywhere, even in the Philippines. But the US isn’t the only country spying other countries. Even the Philippines has spies in other States. When that was exposed — Crickets.

Duterte is that scandalous vagina, that penis that makes the religious blush. While we speak, he raises his middle finger. We are Plato, presentable, someone you’d like to invite to dinner and present to mama, perfumed, smells like fresh decent Lysoled linen. Duterte is Diogenes, who masturbates in public, spits, acts like a dog, mocks Plato, smells like patis.

Duterte is the brown collar worker of democracy. The toilet of our democracy isn’t flushing because the septic tank of our democracy is already full of shit – and no one wants to do the dirty job of emptying it. Duterte tells us he will do it and tells us what it takes to empty a sea of shit. And when we hear what it’s like inside the septic tank of democracy and the amount of dirty work needed to be done in order to empty it so we could flush the toilet of democracy, we cringe – Eeeeewwww, that’s disgusting, we scream. We want Plato!

The idealists are afraid of Duterte. But we realist political philosophers know this very well: Order is a dirty business; and without order, no democracy. Nobody wants to do the dirty work. Duterte is telling us he can, he will, and fuck you. My mouth is dirty, Duterte tells us, but I will give you a clean government.

Duterte’s attitude towards Australia right now reminds me of how Lee Kuan Yew boldly stood up against the Western critiques of his leadership. But don’t get too excited: Such attitude was also displayed by Moammar Gaddafi. Will Duterte become a Lee or a Gaddafi? Only time will tell. And only Duterte can and will decide which path he will take.

“and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace”
– Charles Bukowski, The Genius of the Crowd

Written By

Since 2001, as she was about to turn 19, Sass has dedicated herself to the LGBT Rights movement in the Philippines, most specifically to issues of gender identity and freedom of gender expression. James Green, an international transgender rights activist, served as her mentor via email. She started giving discussions on transgender rights and issues in Luneta Park in Manila. In December 2002, she co-founded the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). In 2003 & 2004, together with Drs Sam Winter and Mark King of the University of Hong Kong, she did the first comprehensive study on transgender women in the Philippines. The study has been published in the International Journal of Transgenderism. In 2009, she was one of the LGBT activists invited to speak in a historic United Nations General Assembly side-event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In 2013, she received the ECHO Award, given annually to excellent and promising migrant students in the Netherlands. In 2014, she received the Harry Benjamin Distinguished Education and Advocacy Award from the World Profession Association for Transgender Health. A nomadic spirit, Sass loves to write, walk, read, cycle, and cook. Together with the love of her life, Sass is currently based in The Hague, The Netherlands. She graduated with a Combined major in World Politics & Global Justice, minor in International Development (Magna cum Laude) at Leiden University College, which bestowed her the 2014 Global Citizenship Award. She is a contributing writer on TG issues for the mag, through The Activist.


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