Trump: A Pinoy pulitiko?

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    ‘With roughly 73 days to go left in his presidency, it will be worth watching if President Trump will stay on his current course or conform to what grace and tradition demand of an outgoing American President.’

    ALL eyes turned to the recently concluded elections in the United States in the past week, and for longer than expected. Election Day in the US became election week as the counting took a slower than usual pace, owing to the large number of mail-in ballots. While this mode of voting in the US isn’t new, the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic forced more voters to send in their votes via mail to avoid in-person voting to minimize exposure to COVID-19. The voter turnout is also quite impressive, as more than 140 million votes were cast. One pundit pointed out that the turnout is proof that people want to vote, if given the means and ways to do so.

    As of this writing, President Donald J. Trump has not conceded, despite the fact that many news agencies (including his beloved Fox News) already called the election in favor of former Vice President (and now President-Elect) Joseph R. Biden. Trump’s next tweet after the election was called was eagerly anticipated, owing to the fact that much of his rhetoric after Biden had taken the lead in previously red states centered on unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud.

    To Filipinos following the results, Trump’s behavior must have struck a familiar chord: after all, most politicians who lose an election in the Philippines are likely to cry foul and not extend a hand across the aisle. I remember not too long ago that the supporters of a losing mayoralty flocked to one side of C-5 road to protest, causing a major gridlock that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a familiar post-election scene to us Filipinos, complete with press conferences, multiple protests and the back-and-forth of allegations and counter-allegations between rival camps. In some cases, the allegations of fraud were proven; in most, well, let’s just say that the bluster disappeared after a few weeks, leaving the loser to slink away to plot for another day.

    True to form, President Trump and his surrogates continue to the claim that the count was rigged, to the extent of using his wide reach on social media to rile up his supporters.

    Interestingly, Twitter (Trump’s social media platform of choice) has been actively attaching warnings to Trump’s problematic tweets in a bid to warn other users that the contents are disputed. It now raises the question whether Trump will be instrumental to a peaceful transition of power, or an obstacle to it.

    With roughly 73 days to go left in his presidency, it will be worth watching if President Trump will stay on his current course or conform to what grace and tradition demand of an outgoing American President. If this trend of denial persists, then it would be interesting to see what will happen between now and Inauguration Day. For starters, what will happen to the traditional turnover at the White House? What sort of note will he leave for the incoming President inside the Resolute desk, assuming he even leaves one? In the worst case, will President Trump even willingly leave the White House, if he insists that he won the election?

    Barricading one’s self inside the seat of power is yet another tactic out of the Pinoy politician’s playbook – we’ve lost track of the times a local politician locked himself in his office, refusing to heed orders to step down and vacate the office. In one case, authorities had to cut power and water to the capitol to force the politician out. This might make for good entertainment but honestly just quite embarrassing for everyone involved, especially in a robust democracy like the US. But then again, 2020 seems to be the year of upending norms, traditions, and conventions in every way, so I suppose we will have to again wait and see how this particular matter will play out.