"‘Gratefulness’ is the root of patronage."
There is a very human tendency for people appointed to government positions to look favorably upon the person who put them in office.
Imagine, thus, the shock of United States President Donald Trump when his three appointees to the US Supreme Court joined their six colleagues in deciding to throw out a petition from the state of Texas to overturn election results in four battleground states.
Most of the world already knows that Mr. Trump lost to former Vice President Joseph Biden. But Trump himself has instigated an unprecedented attack, not only on the result of the election but on the democratic process itself, by saying that the election was attended by massive fraud.
Unconvinced, all nine magistrates said Friday that Texas lacked standing to pursue the case and that it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.”
A similar decision earlier in the week shot down a similar attempt by Pennsylvania Republicans.
In a tweet, Mr. Trump threw another tantrum: “The Supreme Court really let us down. No Wisdom! No Courage!”
Mr. Trump might have asked, what went wrong with his appointees Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, who turned against him. It was in fact the gathering for the nomination of Coney Barrett at the Rose Garden in late September that was deemed the superspreader event that led to many attendees, including Trump himself, to contract COVID-19.
The answer is, nothing went wrong: The three did what was only right. From the moment they were sworn into office, their loyalties were to the people and to the law, never to the person that appointed them. We have no way of knowing the justices’ motivations or predicting their future stand on other issues, but on this one, they did their country good.
The practice of ‘utang na loob’ is also pronounced here in Philippine politics. It is deemed a virtue to be grateful to the person who gave you a break or opened the door for you to new opportunities.
Unfortunately, this is also the root of patronage politics. While it is always good to recognize your roots and thank the people who helped you along the way, the best way you can repay them is to do the job well — blind to personalities, politics and other persuasive factors. This is payback of a higher order, and the only genuine kind.