Buoyed by poll surveys, acclaimed by the media, bankrolled by Wall Street and propelled by a formidable electoral machine, Hillary Clinton was ready to be proclaimed the first woman president of and the better half of the first power couple (with her husband Bill) in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
First outsider. But that fate eluded her. Though she won the popular vote, the antiquated American Electoral College sprang a stunning surprise and crowned Donald Trump the oldest and the first outsider-president of the United States. Like her fellow Democrat Al Gore (see my piece on 10/30/16), Clinton patriotically conceded.
The news was big in America, but it was also momentous for the rest of the world because for the first time in memory, the election result will radically alter US foreign policy. Past US elections revolved mostly around domestic issues but this time, the United States’ political, military and economic relations with all other countries inevitably whirled in.
A political novice with no experience in public office, Trump defied political correctness, overrode his party’s leaders, employed unorthodox methods, and incredibly convinced his compatriots that he alone could “make America great again.”
The electorate ignored his vulgarity, buffoonery, sexual perversion, tax-dodging issues, lies, bullying, insults, refusal to release his tax returns, and unbridled bias against blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, Latinos and Asians. They viewed him as the less objectionable alternative to Clinton’s e-mail imponderables, support of Obamacare and continuation of foreign adventurism that cost precious American lives.
Simple program. Trump’s platform was beguilingly simple: “America first.” He promised to pep up the economy, give jobs to locals, lessen their taxes, raise their standard of living, end their role as policemen of the world, stop massive foreign aid, bill allies for their defense, befriend Russia, toughen immigration, and rebalance trade in favor of America.
Consistent with these promises, he would turn to protectionism and ban or heavily tax foreign goods, encourage the consumption of US-made products, bar American companies from outsourcing jobs, require them to employ citizens, and stop them from using foreign sweat factories.
He would also reverse the free flow of goods and services that America itself initiated during the last century when it sponsored the lowering of taxes and tariffs worldwide via the World Trade Organization. At that time, it wanted more markets for its products and better international deployment of its professional and technical services.
Later, however, the Germans and the Japanese produced better industrials and outsold the Americans everywhere, even in their domestic backyard. With its cheap and uncomplaining labor, China became the world’s favorite factory. It flooded American homes with products and wares that demolished local industries. All these resulted in unemployment, financial hemorrhage and huge borrowings.
Harmful to Filipinos. Trump’s protectionism and isolationism will harm the Philippine economy in at least two insidious ways. First, by imposing taxes on US companies that outsource jobs, our business process outsourcing industry will slowly dry up. Last year, our US-dependent BPO industry employed over a million Filipinos and generated $22 billion in revenue.
Second, Trump’s plan to restrict the entry of professionals and blue-collar workers coupled with the merciless deportation of illegal aliens will dent the overseas Filipino workers’ remittances, which last year amounted to $25 billion.
These inflows from the BPO industry and OFWs constitute the backbone of our economy and sustain many related industries with multiplier effects, like real estate, housing, food, transportation, entertainment and others.
In sum, Trump’s promises, if implemented fully, will presage a regime of vulgarity, unorthodoxy and hostility that will erode the era of urbanity, predictability and liberty with dire domino consequences in the Philippines and the rest of the world.
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