Like many of my friends, I am still reeling from the news of the Trump presidency, days after the formal announcement was made. Everyone I met had the same range of emotions-shock, disbelief, even depression and panic as the alarm sounded. Well, if many Americans have this kind of reaction, we shouldn't be surprised at ours.
It is only the fifth time that a presidential candidate in the U.S. won the popular votes but lost in electoral votes. The last time was in 2000, but this year's election shocker had an unprecedented reaction among the Americans where at least twenty five cities had huge crowds holding generally peaceful but passionate protests. Most of them were the young voters, college students who form a huge chunk of Hillary Clinton's supporters versus Trump's voters who were mostly not college-educated, the disparity in the demographics quite apparent.
The American electoral college system is something of a puzzle to many, especially us precisely because one can be the populist choice but still lose the office and this can be very frustrating for many, especially, of course, the candidates. Even Trump tweeted that "the electoral college is a disaster for democracy", but he is typically silent about this now. The American constitution is very clear on this; the last time this very idea was challenged was in 1969 when a congressman pushed for its amendment. In the end, the constitution was upheld in its original form and it is unlikely that someone will spearhead this kind of movement now.
This highly divisive election had the entire world watching, and the Democrats are still dumbfounded that the candidate with the least experience came out victorious and that in the final showdown, they had lost the blue-collar workers for whom they have tailor-fitted many of their policies. Where did they fumble?
Abroad, the stock market took a fall in major cities: Tokyo by more than 5%, Hong Kong by 2.2%, and other markets likeSydney, Seoul, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei and Shanghai. Manila too had the jitters when stocks fell by 2.5%. TheAsian market along with the European market took a hard hit on the day that it became apparent thatHillary was going to lose, but it is short of amazing that right on the next day, the European and Asian markets bounced back and posted strong gains. Dow Futures and S%P 500 opened at a record high on Thursday, and Tokyo and Shanghai had a complete turn-around from their dip the previous day. TheNew York Stock Exchange likewise posted strong gains and showed stability once again, and the collective sigh of relief was deafening. TheChinese Yuan hit a 6-year low at the news of the election results, and this was also true of theMexican peso. The American dollar dipped against the Euro and the Japanese Yen because investors, when faced with uncertainties, tend to seek refuge in more stable currencies, and this had an unsettling effect on Japan. The mighty US dollar of course has recovered though not yet at its old level against the Yen.
This volatility in the global market inspired by the Trump presidency is nothing short of phenomenal brought about by a country's newly-elected leader. Imagine the web site of Canada crashing because of the sheer volume of inquiries for immigration or re-settling. Filipino families who have settled in the US comfortably are also unsettled by the Trump presidency, and I have heard first hand such feedbacks from families of friends. Minorities in the US, among them Filipinos, are wary about the incoming US president's views and rhetoric about immigrants, emphasizing that he wants an America for Americans. We do not know the implications of this here at home, especially with the present administration's sentiments about the US.
Chinese businessmen are sitting up and watching American politics keenly on the heels of Trump's threat of a 45% tariff on Chinese goods in America. He was also seen on television in one of his many rallies ranting about the "greatest rape of the world" perpetrated by the Chinese, referring to this nation's increasing trade grip across the globe, including the United States and many countries in Europe. Donald Trump had some bold pronouncements about doubling US growth to 4% upon his assumption of office and slashing personal and company taxes which, analysts say, could cost the American government some US$4.4 trillion and potentially add some $6.6 trillion to the already huge government debt. This (along with other really bold pronouncements on national television like dismantling regulations that are not favourable to business and reneging on world trade deals entered into by the Obama government and spending US$600 billion on infrastructure, and re-negotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement) is probably why Trump got a mere 4% of the votes in Washington where there is typical resistance to major changes in economic policies and new comprehensive tax reforms.
I'm not one to write about a foreign country's presidential election but this one really took my breath away and I simply had to write about it. I have been glued to CNN for nights on end especially during the run-up to the actual election, and so have all of my colleagues, family and friends. I knew from the early voting result that the tides have changed and the polling industry is teetering on the brink. It was very gracious ofHillary Clinton, Michelle and Barack Obama and no. 1 Clinton supporterElizabeth Warren to offer reconciliation and support to the new administration, and equally gracious of Donald Trump to promote national healing after such a divisive election. It will be a 70-day transition to the new Trump government when the new president-elect officially moves from the Trump Tower to theWhite House on Jan. 20, 2017. Many Americans who passionately campaigned for Hillary and voted for her are still seething and rallying, but frankly, I don't think anything will come out of it. Until the time that he is officially sworn in, the great United States of America will be on pins and needles but hopefully will slowly settle down to business as usual.
Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.
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