Part Of Your World: An Open Letter To America
Feb 1, 2017   •   Tim Henares
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Feb 1, 2017   •   Tim Henares
You’ve got fascists and Gitmos a’plenty. You’ve got post-truth and alt-rights galore. This is now part of your world. You are now one of us.
For so long, the Philippines, in its long and rich history with you, has always been aping every single thing you did. We can’t help it. Most of us really like you guys and what we think you stand for. I guess that’s why it’s such a surprise that now, you’re imitating us by putting an unhinged man who doesn’t have the first idea what it means to lead an entire nation into power as president.
Yet, we couldn’t help but notice that you just had to outdo us, because while we certainly have massive problems with our president at present, it’s not like we ignored the warnings of five previous presidents when we elected our guy, and thank heavens our guy isn’t on Twitter to get into petty fights online with everyone who doesn’t have a kind word to say about him.
So you see, we speak with experience here when we say that we have a fairly good idea where your next few months are headed, what with who our nation has in charge, and how much they seem to adore each other at present. On a scale of 1 to Jaboom Twins, the similarities between the two are uncanny enough for us to accurately predict that in the coming months…
For all of our president’s bluster, and his claim that he will ride a jet ski to plant the Philippine flag on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, he ended up quickly tucking his tail between his legs when faced with actually following through on his claims.
While your president insists on building a wall to keep Mexico out at a time when illegal immigration from Mexico is at a 40-year low, and while the costs keep mounting, do you really expect him to make Mexico pay for it instead of you?
How about draining the swamp and removing the so-called elites from power to give it back to the people? That’s not happening either, what with Trump’s highly questionable choices for cabinet officials, who seem to be made of the material he drained from the so-called swamp.
Let’s face it: Trump is already going back on his word. Just like Duterte is, seeing as he just reneged on his 6-month promise of peace and order. For a bunch of tough-talking dudes who supposedly “tell it like it is,” they’re pretty prone to telling lies a whole lot, aren’t they?
Trump’s social media campaign for the presidency did not end after election. He’s still clearly at it, much like our president is. This is because both presidents wisely realize that public opinion can only fall from where it initially stands, considering the diminishing returns of approval ratings for nearly every elected Philippine or American president since we’ve bothered keeping track of these things.
The regrets of voters who feel betrayed over broken promises needs to be smoothed over, and that’s what the Mocha Usons and the Kellyanne Conways (aka Vanilla Uson) of the world are there for. They are there to keep the propaganda machine going, which is something most other candidates dial back on after winning elections.
As such, anyone willing to call out lies (let’s not call them “alternative facts” when there’s a four-letter word that fits the bill) becomes a functional enemy of the state, and will be treated accordingly.
Here, in the Philippines, libel is a criminal offense, while that isn’t the case in America. This will not stop The Donald from trying to make life a living hell for anyone who wants to report on the truth, accusing them of bias and agenda until he turns a bright shade of purple. That’s why his press secretary, Sean Spicer Andanar, immediately chided the media for reporting how many people attended the new US president’s inauguration, which was exactly what the media is expected to do, in the first place.
While there is an unwritten rule of a honeymoon phase between the media and a newly elected president, all that goes out the window when you have presidents as disdainful of the free press as Trump and Duterte happen to be.
Nobody’s saying Barack Obama is a perfect president, but his legacy of Obamacare, which boils down to “well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed socialized medical insurance for all” is, on paper, a noble cause. It’s what he fought for and practically defined his 8-year tenure by.
On the other hand, Donald Trump has decided that his first order of business would be, among other things, repealing Obamacare without any actually viable alternative to replace it with, thereby nullifying the gains and lives already helped by the Affordable Care Act. The legacy he seems hellbent on establishing? A frigging wall. Because Berlin’s was really a great example, right?
Sometimes, you have to wonder exactly why these things, be it a wall, or a drug war that doesn’t stop the drugs one iota as historically proven everywhere else, are high on the priorities of our leaders.
There was a time when being a supporter of any given president or candidate was fine, because at the end of the day, we’re all Americans or Filipinos, and we come together for our love of our own country, regardless. That schism has grown so deep, it has become more and more difficult to keep our friendship and our political leanings separate from each other.
As the months go by, Trump will trample all over your personal dealbreakers, and some of you will say “enough,” and just tune him out, all while keeping a wary eye on people who still find it possible to justify whatever he says or does next.
It’s a bit ironic, but the minute we find something or someone we like, the very same grousing and whining we used to do over things and people we didn’t like suddenly seems very offensive when it’s done to what we like. Quite a few Americans like Trump. Quite a few Filipinos like Duterte. And to them, anyone who doesn’t is a traitor to their country, which seems pretty strange when they sure didn’t feel they were being precisely that when they stood in opposition to the last guys.
It would really be important for you to remember that when the shoe is on the other foot, you don’t become a monster about it, lest we end up complaining about the Democrat president in four years’ time. At the heart of democracy is the right to dissent and the right to oppose that which we don’t believe in, no matter how many other people believe in it.
How do you guys like Russia, really? After all, it’s a pretty (and literally) cool country, and all the vodka and bear attacks you can shake a stick at. We understand that you had this Cold War thing with them for a few decades, but that’s all water under the bridge, right?
Well, you better get used to being chummy with them, because just like our president, whom we expected to stand up to China, your president is pretty happy to be glad-handing with the people who may or may not have delivered him the presidency in the first place.
And just like the Filipinos wondering if this will be the end of the Philippines, the answer is simply one word: no. It will not be the end, because we, the people, are far more than just people under the thumb of our leader. We are capable of so much more, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not.
Ultimately, no matter where you stand, the truth will out, and there will be a reckoning, and we are inclined to believe, one for the better. In an age where we have to put up with people insisting something is red when it clearly is blue, in an age where people point to a group of people as “the problem” when “the problem” statistically has little to nothing to do with them, the truth will out.
And therein lies hope. Not hope in a new leader, but hope in each and every one of us, regardless of party lines or nationalities.
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