Between a rock and a hard place
NEW YORK CITY — The cover of The New Yorker issue that came out the day before the presidential election captured in a humorous and prescient way the feelings of the followers of whichever candidate would lose the next day. It features a man on the subway holding up the front page of a newspaper. The headlines scream: “Oh Sweet Jesus/ Please God, No,” “Anything But That,” and “Come On.”
That is exactly how millions of voters and I felt once the presidential contest resulted in Donald Trump being declared President Barack Obama’s successor—a plunge from the sublime to the ridiculous. This, in spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote—a replay of the Bush vs. Gore elections of 2000, when Vice-President Al Gore garnered more votes, but the Supreme Court decided in favor of George W. Bush.
The question remains: with one person, one vote being the abiding principle of democracy, why isn’t the candidate who garners the most votes declared the winner? Can such a process be said to completely democratic?
The New Yorker cover also accurately described how multitudes of Filipinos, including yours truly, reacted when the Philippine Supreme Court ruled in favor of interring Ferdinand Marcos, kleptocrat extraordinaire and brutal dictator forced out of the country in 1986, at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, or Heroes Cemetery.
It seems to be a case where the inmates have taken over the asylum. Whatever the rules of civilized society and however thin the veneer they provided, we assumed that these would hold sway.
No longer. Darkness has become light and light, darkness. Like the Zika virus, right-wing demagoguery seems to have spread globally, in the guise of populism, from Brexit to Marine Le Pen in France, from Xi Jin Ping of China to Rodrigo Duterte in Manila. So now, in one instance, we will have a world-class thief and a serial abuser of human rights accorded the honors of a hero’s burial. If Ferdinand Marcos is a hero, then Al Capone should be given the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Supreme Court’s 9-to-5 decision, with one abstention, in favor of the Marcoses, deliberately disregards history’s and the country’s judgment in 1986, and turns its back on the spectacular mess the Marcos regime left the country in. Apparently, the narrow rationale was that the fake war hero was never dishonorably discharged from active military service. There is a world of difference between this and the accomplishments of a true hero, which Ferdinand Marcos was emphatically not.
The other instance is the victory of Trump, though this is yet to be certified by the Electoral College, an anachronistic mechanism meant to favor smaller states, but in doing so puts bigger states at a disadvantage. Trump is a man who has never held public office and whom the autocratic Putin loves, is a sexual predator, claims that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, and has reawakened the bigotry that lies not far from the surface of American public discourse.
White supremacists, led by David Duke, have crawled out from under their rock to hail Trump’s victory. (I hear there is a mad rush on the part of the KKK and would-be Klansmen, to buy bed sheets. And demand for wooden crosses has spiked. Yes, Trump’s victory is providing jobs!)
Oh Sweet Jesus, Please God No, Come On. Indeed.
Trump apologists say that the bullying, misogynistic, anti-immigrant narcissist is not the one the world will see as president. Protesters across the country say the contrary. (As for the latter, they have the constitutional right to do so, as long the protests are peaceful.)
People have to realize that, as President Obama points out, the presidency doesn’t change but rather magnifies who you are. Trump claims to be anti-establishment, but many of the people he has surrounded himself with are very much establishment figures, such as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuiiani, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, and current governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. And suddenly it’s a love fest between the president-elect and the Republican bigwigs that have done nothing for the working class.
Even given this, I still hope for the best, but you can be damn sure I am prepared for the worst.
Copyright L.H. Francia 2016
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