IN THE beginning, many people thought of him as a joke.
He was not presidential enough, they said. He talked too much and was politically incorrect. He had no qualms showing off his low regard of women. He uttered the most awkward things and cracked the most inappropriate of jokes. He does not seem to speak from facts and statistics. How would he represent his country before the rest of the world?
But this weekend, Donald Trump became president of the United States of America.
The day was marked by both cheers and protests. Trump’s victory was unexpected. His Democrat opponent, the former State Secretary, Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton, was perceived to be the sure winner—she had way more experience in politics and in everything else. On social media, Trump was derided as a racist, a misogynist, an insanely wealthy man and nothing else. Yet he will determine the fate of the US for at least the next four years.
In his inaugural address, Trump said he would bring back America to the people because for many years it has been Washington that has made all the decisions. He would bring back jobs and reclaim borders. These words resonated with those who felt short-changed by the traditional system. This was why Americans took a chance on a maverick.
For us Filipinos, what makes the transition significant is not the colorful personality of the new president or the traits he seems to share with ours. Recall that just a few months back, our President Duterte hurled invectives at the Americans for calling him out on his supposed human rights violations while conveniently forgetting the violations they committed on us decades ago.
And while we may just be a minor partner to the Americans, they are our major partners in trade and in geopolitics. It will be interesting to watch how Duterte and Trump will get past their superficial similarities and actually work together for mutual benefit—that is, if they truly can.
It’s an exciting time for Americans, indeed, and the rest of the world. We look forward to seeing how they can transcend fiery rhetoric and translate good intentions into results. It’s not a joke to be chief executive, and it’s not a job for jokers.