A recent survey by the US-based Pew Research Center says 7 out of 10 Filipinos trust US President Donald Trump to “do the right thing” when it comes to international affairs—the highest rating among 37 Asian countries surveyed.
In stark contrast, the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed that more and more Americans are rejecting Trump. His approval rating has dipped to a mere 37 percent—the worst so far in his presidency.
The Pew survey was apparently meant to promote Trump’s upcoming visit to the Philippines. Contrary to the glowing, albeit questionable, results of that survey, thousands of Filipinos are expected to turn up in various mass actions protesting Trump’s visit to the country, including his one-on-one meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan is organizing a three-day #BanTrumpPH campaign to coincide with Trump’s stay in the country on Nov. 12-14. Since last week various organizations have been holding protest actions and build-up activities in anticipation of the visit.
Like many Americans, Filipino progressives are apprehensive that a billionaire businessman turned reality TV star with no experience in public office now heads the most powerful nation on earth. The American media describe him as any or all of the following: bigot, fascist, narcissist, misogynist, racist, Islamophobe and/or xenophobe, with a matching hairstyle to boot.
When Trump won, Americans expected the worst—a great wall along the Mexican border, a revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis, the booting out and keeping out of immigrants, more police brutality against blacks and people of color, drastic cuts in social welfare, massive unrest, among others. Some predicted World War III.
A year later, such fears have become more real than ever.
Perhaps America deserves Donald Trump. For more than a century now, the US government and its powerful corporations have led the way in violating human rights and the sovereignty of nations all over the world. It has engaged in the most vicious of attacks against nonwhite populations, starting from its own native American Indians to generations of Africans, Latin Americans, Asians and Middle Easterners.
US imperialism has exported an individualistic, consumerist culture that commodifies women, insults minorities and extols the profane and decadent. It has plundered entire nations, exported war on a daily basis, and killed millions of peoples in the name of democracy and free trade. America is said to be the biggest and most powerful terrorist state in the world.
It is tragic that the American people’s historic struggle for democracy, liberty and human rights is being undermined by its own government. How ironic that the fight against neoliberal globalization, highlighted by the Battle of Seattle in 1999 and the Occupy Wall Street Movement of 2011, and the struggle against racial discrimination punctuated by the election of America’s first black president in 2010, culminated not in the election of a leftist Democrat in the person of Bernie Sanders but in a rightist populist in the person of Trump.
Ironically, it took a billionaire nonpolitician to articulate the grievances and aspirations of many ordinary Americans. Most of them may not have shared his disdain for immigrants, his condescending view of women, or his brash and self-centered arrogance. But he spoke the truth about the ordinary folk being left out of globalization. The lack of jobs and opportunities. Or how corrupt and vested interests hijacked the American dream.
Trump promised to make America great again, apparently at the expense of the very values that made that country great.
Next week, the American Duterte is coming to town. Not everyone will be rolling out the red carpet.
Teddy A. Casiño is an activist who served as Bayan Muna party-list representative in Congress in 2004-2013. He is now back in the parliament of the streets.