Opinion

Why Filipinos Should Be Concerned About the U.S. Elections

Are we ready for another four years of Trump’s America?
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The elections in the United States is here. Most Filipinos would argue we have our own problems to deal with here at home, but should we be concerned about the outcome of these upcoming polls? Is the U.S., and the rest of the free world, prepared for Donald J. Trump to reprise his role in the Oval Office for another four years?

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The Filipino connection

The United States Census Bureau counts over four million Filipinos currently living in the U.S. The Migration Policy Institute also reports that Filipino immigrants in America rank as the fourth largest origin group next to Mexico, India, and China. Immigration has long been a hot topic way before the 45th president was even sworn into office. Trump wants to build walls. His campaign promised this much. For a man who seems to put little value on palabra de honor, it is ironic how he has been so fixated on delivering on this vow.

Among many others, the current U.S. administration will be remembered for separating immigrant children from their parents and putting them in cages. Think about that tito or tita of yours—many of us have one—who took a leap of faith, uprooted their family, and built a life for themselves Stateside. America is, after all, the land of opportunity built by—surprise, surprise—immigrants. Having such a large Filipino population there, your relatives included, should make you care about who is at the helm of Washington’s policy-making for the foreseeable future, especially in the middle of a pandemic with still no definitive end in sight. 

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In an LA Times report back in July, 19 of 48 known Filipino-Americans in Southern California diagnosed with COVID-19 ended up dead, and we can only imagine how many more have been added in the last three months. The first known casualty of coronavirus in Los Angeles County was a Filipino woman who had just returned from visiting relatives in the Philippines. She was on a layover heading back to Florida. She never made it home. 

Lettie Dionisio, victim number 37 in a climbing death toll in the U.S. that just hit the 225,200 mark, is no more than a statistic to Donald Trump. The Fauci situation is a lot like having a Michelin-star chef in the kitchen but the diner still insisting on ordering steak cooked well done smothered in ketchup, which, by the way, is a well-documented culinary preference of the commander-in-chief and just another one in his long list of oddities. 

Flying blind

The world is navigating a pandemic and America is flying blind. Trump instead pushes his version of reality, which paints himself in control, downplays the severity of the situation, and refuses to take responsibility for his administration’s mishandling of what he refers to as the “China Virus.” Not only do his overtly false statements mislead the public, putting them in harm’s way (disinfectant, anyone?), but they also promote xenophobia especially toward the Asian community as if we don’t already have enough to deal with as it is.

As the leader of the free world, the next U.S. president should value foreign relations a lot better than the incumbent has. As his Democratic rival Joe Biden puts it, Trump has “poked his finger” at America’s long-time allies, while embracing its foes throughout his term in office. The smart money is on these foreign governments not having the United States’ best interest in mind. Some of the decisions Trump has made, which not only affect the U.S. but other countries as well, have been poor at best. For example: setting in motion America’s secession from the World Health Organization at the height of the pandemic was dangerous and not indicative of the will of the people as reflected by objections of lawmakers from both Republicans and Democrats.

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Trump also withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Accord, which is hardly a surprise coming from a President who has gone on record to say that climate change is nothing but a hoax.

Just a few days ago, shortly after the final presidential debate, POTUS was on the phone with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of the media, which looked suspiciously like political theater in the hopes of getting foreign policy brownie points as his re-election campaign heads into the home stretch.

The next step

These next elections will be a referendum on the kind of governance the U.S. chooses. All the White House drama does somehow resemble what’s happening here in Malacañang. In the last presidential elections, voters in the U.S. and the Philippines had grown tired with traditional politics and opted to put in office two very unconventional choices for the highest position in the land. We wanted change to happen and we went all-in with two unmistakable wild cards.

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The U.S. elections next week will allow Americans to decide whether their leader stepped up to the plate and deserves another four years in office. It’s also an opportunity for us Filipinos to take notes for when it’s our turn to go back to the polls in May 2022.

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Mikko Abello
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