Trump and Duterte
Will there be shades of the 2020 US presidential election in our own 2022 presidential election? Or are we seeing vivid colors of Philippine elections in the ongoing US elections?
Both US President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016. Trump is completing a four-year term, but he lost his reelection bid last week. Mr. Duterte is serving a six-year term, and while he’s not eligible for another term, for all intents and purposes, he will be running for reelection through his surrogate candidate in 2022.
Both Trump and Mr. Duterte led controversial lives before they became their countries’ top leaders. Voters decided to overlook the controversies and issues of morality raised against them, and resolved instead to cast their nations’ lot on them. Both reached their countries’ top posts as outsiders of the traditional power centers, and they have since ruled as provocative and incendiary leaders.
Trump has been criticized for his divisive actions that have alienated his country’s traditional European allies, and for cozying up to his nation’s traditional enemy, Russia. On the other hand, Mr. Duterte has been vocal in his hostility toward his country’s longtime ally, the United States, while being generous with reverence toward the nation most hated by his countrymen, China.
Both Trump and Mr. Duterte are criticized for wielding power with an authoritarian bent. They are blamed for misusing and even desecrating hallowed institutions and valued traditions of democracy in their respective countries.
The Duterte administration is accused of liability in the killing of more than 20,000 alleged drug suspects, while the Trump administration is accused of negligent culpability in the deaths of more than 200,000 victims of COVID-19. The reigns of both leaders have led to the most polarizing period in the contemporary histories of both countries.
While the two leaders are strongly detested by citizens who espouse libertarian beliefs, Trump and Mr. Duterte have solidified support from citizens who are ardent in their belief that there is a plethora of other issues that they hold as fundamentally important and as equally urgent.
There is one crucial lesson from the conduct and results of the just concluded US elections that may be a valuable takeaway for Filipinos who are aspiring for change in our country. Sneering at and debasing people who are on the opposite side of the political fence will work to alienate fellow citizens, instead of converting them to see the more promising scenery on the other side of the fence. People are confronted with different shades of reality in their daily lives, and simplistically framing the world as black or white, good or bad, may result in further widening the wedge and permanently polarizing our society. We must show a more decent and civilized way to articulate the pricelessness of life, the equality of all human beings, the necessity of inclusiveness, the sanctity of truth, and the indispensability of free speech.
Trump will leave office on Jan. 20, 2021, and Joseph Biden Jr. will replace him as the newly-elected president of the United States.
Will the same fate befall Mr. Duterte’s surrogate in the 2022 presidential election? Mr. Duterte’s proxy candidate will have history against his/her chances of winning. No incumbent Philippine president, for a continuous period of 30 years by 2022, has succeeded in getting his/her chosen candidate elected. The last time a sitting president got her candidate elected was when Cory Aquino’s pick, Fidel Ramos, won in the 1992 election.
Soon, President Trump will have to ponder what’s next for him after he steps down from the White House. President Duterte will no doubt be keenly watching where the road will lead to for the US president. It may be the same road for the Philippine president when he steps down from Malacañang in 2022.
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