POSTSCRIPT / November 10, 2020 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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World to America: Welcome back!

JERSEY CITY – To shorten our column last Sunday to fit its allotted space, we chopped off the last paragraph which said:

“It seems to us that after four years of trying mighty hard using ingenuity and his signature business model as a template, Trump has failed to make America great again and succeeded instead in isolating it from most of the world.”

With congratulations from world leaders streaming in, as if to say “Welcome back, America!” the refusal of President Trump to concede a week after he apparently lost both the popular and the electoral votes in the Nov. 3 election, only sinks him deeper into isolation.

Trump, who is basically a businessman always looking for a good deal, looks scared of the prospects of losing the presidency, together with its privileges and immunity from suit (including possible huge tax cases).

Reports out of the White House have it that Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, has talked to him about conceding, and that, according to CNN, first lady Melania Trump herself has joined the inner circle advising him the time has come to accept his defeat.

But Trump and his campaign team are still pressing supporters for more contributions to a Defense Fund to pursue actions in court and elsewhere to forestall the vote by the Electoral College on Dec. 14 to formalize a Biden-Harris win.

Their supposed victory is just a projection of the news media based on the consolidated count in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. That unofficial tally, however, has been firming up in the public mind with its every reiteration.

The president is not elected directly by the people, but by the 358 members of an Electoral College. When that body meets on Dec. 14, whoever gets its 270 majority vote wins. Congress convenes on Jan. 6 next year to canvass the electoral votes and officially certify the winner.

Is this lengthy multi-stage process reason enough for Trump to hold back acknowledging his defeat this early? Maybe yes, especially if he has convincing evidence that, as he claims, the vote was stolen from him.

Many world leaders have shown, meanwhile, eagerness to cement ties with the incoming Biden admin, even as the celebratory mood in many places in the US indicates a kind of relief on the home front.

As we wondered how our own President, a kindred soul of Trump, took his friend’s defeat, Duterte’s spokesman announced Sunday: “On behalf of the Filipino nation, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wishes to extend his warm congratulations to former Vice President Joseph ‘Joe’ Biden on his election as the new President of the United States of America.”

That same morning, Vice President Leni Robredo tweeted: “My warmest congratulations to President-elect @JoeBiden and VP-elect @KamalaHarris! Your victory is an affirmation of the shared ideals on which the long friendship between our two nations stand: democracy, civil rights, faith, and inclusivity. I pray for your success!”

Her mention of “shared ideals” reminded us of a Harris tweet that summarized their focus: “Now the real work begins. To beat this pandemic, rebuild our economy, root out systemic racism in our justice system and society, combat the climate crisis, heal the soul of our nation. The road ahead won’t be easy. But America is ready. And so are @JoeBiden and I.”

Harris, 56, will be the first woman US vice president, one of color and of Asian (Indian) descent, positioned just a heartbeat away from the presidency! This detail was not missed by world leaders on the distaff side.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Indian opposition figure Rahul Gandhi were among the first to congratulate Harris.

In Colombia, Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez said: “How proud that a woman, Afro, Indian, Jamaican, great professional and extraordinary leader, became the vice president of the United States for the first time! With every woman who wins, we all win!”

Another woman leader, President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China: “Now it is my turn to extend congratulations to @JoeBiden  & @KamalaHarris on being elected President & VP-elect. The values on which we have built our relationship could not be stronger. I look fwd to working together to further our friendship, & contributions to int’l society.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted Harris, whose mother was Indian: “Your success is pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis, but also for all Indian Americans.” (“Chitti” is a Tamil word referring to the younger sisters of one’s mother.)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Our two countries are close friends, partners and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.”

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin: “I want to congratulate the new President-Elect of the USA.” Citing Biden’s Irish-American heritage, he added: “Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation and I look forward to working with him. I also look forward to welcoming him back home when the circumstances allow!”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that “the President-elect has been a great friend of Australia over many years,” noting that Biden will step into the role as the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he looked forward to working with Biden and Harris: “Our alliance is strong and the bond between our two countries is rock-solid.”

French President Emmanuel Macron: “The Americans have chosen their President. We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo: “Welcome back America! While we are about to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, this victory symbolizes our need to act together more than ever, in view of climate emergency.” The US left the pact days ago on instructions of Trump, but Biden has promised to bring the US back.

He will also have his hands full repairing any damage that Trump’s poll fraud allegations may have inflicted on the US’s credibility as a democracy.

Russia’s foreign ministry commented that the tight race was a sign of weakness in the US electoral system. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: “The situation in the US and what they themselves say about their elections is a spectacle!”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 10, 2020)

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