THEY SAY vox populi, vox Dei but I am loath to ascribe to the Divine the indiscrimination of the multitude.
In a democracy, the majority wins; that is as it should be. But how I wish the frazzled masses were as wise as the discerning few they often toss by the wayside. These are the ones who, like John the Baptist, stand alone, sternly hurling warnings at the crowd. I call them voices in the wind.
They point out the error goofers don’t want noticed. They report the shattered vase swept under the rug. They insist on the rules the hasty bend for expediency. They expose the frauds hiding in plain sight. They are the unpopular, sometimes irritating sticklers who quite often turn out to be right.
The populi don’t like them.
The voice in the wind struggles to be heard and is oft overcome by the roaring zephyr. It is a plaintive call, quixotic in tenacity, peculiarly optimistic. It sounds the tocsin against various wrongs, risking spite to drive its message home. Many disregard it; it is too unpleasant a sound. They prefer the howl of the wind to the wailing voice within it. To them the wind is thunder and power; the voice is a banshee and inspires fear.
There are a few legislators who are voices in the wind – a handful, no more than that; we are not so blessed. I watched them during the House hearings on Mamasapano and the BBL. They were impressively patient and pertinacious. They stood their ground despite the bellowing around them: “Mr. Speaker! Mr. Speaker! Mr. Speaker!” They were eventually drowned out, as expected, but they made their point.
The Senate voices are a bit louder, perhaps because there are less blowhards among them. Nevertheless, the wind can stir up a din that may render them ultimately indiscernible or, God forbid, make them give up. This is the commonplace pattern of attrition. This is the trite, indomitable rhythm of the wind.
By dint of necessity, these voices clamor for attention. They have been known to nag and niggle and make nuisances of themselves simply to get heard. Consequently, they are dismissed and maligned or taken for granted. Their motives are impugned, their morals questioned; they are made objects of inspection and ridicule by the targets of their tirades. They become unpopular and fall in the surveys. They do not trend on social media. Their numbers can be reckoned on one hand. In time, they are ignored; eventually, they will be forgotten. Meanwhile, their bête noire rises in notoriety and seeks the highest post in the land. The populi will give it to him.
Unless a voice in the wind rises above him.
This is my hope.
What would happen if despite the odds, we choose to amplify the voices in the wind? What would happen if we lend our voices to theirs and together attempt to mute the roar of the wayward wind? What would happen if in 2016 we determine not to vote for who’s trending, nor for who “will win anyway,” but for who is most qualified, morally and intellectually, to serve in office? What would happen if we sincerely implored the aid of Divine Providence for guidance before we make that crucial choice?
If enough of us did that, it well could be that our vox populi would authentically be the great and glorious vox Dei.
Knowing the multitude, however, I fear that is not likely to happen.
Nevertheless, it is a hope I have now, and I will keep it.