US elections

[OPINION] 5 wishes for the Biden presidency

Juju Baluyot
[OPINION] 5 wishes for the Biden presidency
'My fourth wish: that Trump’s defeat sends the message that authoritarian leaders will not last long in power'

On the day of the US elections, an Instagram follower asked me: “Why do you think US elections matter even to us Filipinos?”

This was not at all surprising. Manila is more than 13,000 kilometers away from Washington DC, so how are we Filipinos involved in the American polls? The POTUS governs the United States, so why do we care? 

In response, I said that the US elections matter because the United States is a world leader. They have policies that are not only America-centered but are also positioned to make global impact. For example, in multilateral relations such as trade, immigration, and climate change, which are all global issues, both Trump and Biden have very different approaches to these matters; one of them does not care because of his “America First” approach to practically everything, while the other has very clear goals to address them. If we non-Americans are concerned about our diplomatic relations with the US and the world, we should hope for the best US administration there can be. 

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Hence, my 5 wishes.

My first wish: that Biden acts on climate change more aggressively than his predecessor did. In Trump’s 4 years in the Oval Office, he has always expressed that global warming is “not real” and called environment advocates “hoaxsters.” As a result, the United States, a world leader, was not able to come up with policies to combat climate change. The US also recently withdrew from the Paris Agreement, an international climate change pact.

Now with an incoming Biden presidency, we can hope and expect that the US rejoins the Paris accord and calls on other nations to elevate their ambitions by increasing pledges to lessen or manage carbon in their own countries. After all, it is mostly because of the emissions of industrialized, developed countries such as the United States that we are experiencing global warming in the first place, while relatively smaller, developing countries such as the Philippines are the ones that are most affected. Therefore, America’s leadership and participation in this climate change act is indispensable. That should give us hope that the international community will be more involved in battling the worsening climate crisis.

My second wish: that we see a nation leading the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. It is not a secret that the Trump-led US could have been in a wide-reaching position to be an international leader amid this global crisis, but Trump chose it not to be. His mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, his disregard for scientific and medical expertise, and his denial of the severity of the pandemic has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands. It was not an image of a leader. As a result, the US continues to see rising cases every day when, in fact, they could have managed it in the beginning of the pandemic early this year. 

As cases continue to increase every day, we need a global leader who can display an image of strength and who can act efficiently in implementing solutions to such a seemingly unending health and economic crisis. We need a leader that the world will follow.

My third wish: that Biden changes his stance on abortion. While most of Biden’s policies are progressive and non-traditional, which gives the world hope that he could prompt change in America’s policymaking on certain issues, he is not a messiah. His stance on abortion is simply anti-life.

As faithful Christians, we accept the teaching of our church that “every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred.” When Biden, himself a Catholic, expressed his pro-abortion stance, it may have influenced many policymakers’ viewpoints on this very controversial issue. Remember: the POTUS is the most powerful man in the world and what he says will always have an effect on international decision-making. If the POTUS himself is pro-choice and anti-life, this sets a dangerous precedent in how the world views and values life.

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My fourth wish: that Trump’s defeat sends the message that authoritarian leaders will not last long in power. Our very own Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte snubs human rights, which is evident in his deadly war on drugs. He has acted slowly in emergencies, and he has been a very indecent president — casually spewing cuss words and making jokes about rape on national television. Do we want another 4 years of that?

These few qualities of his should be enough for us to consider Duterte as a strongman, a tyrant, an improper chief — similar to the leader thrown out of power by the American people in their recent elections. If America can do it, why can’t we?

My fifth and last wish: that more Filipinos cast their votes in the 2022 Philippine national elections. If the recent US polls were any basis, we saw that America is tired of despotism and totalitarianism. The recent results of the US elections made #Halalan2022 a trending topic in the Philippines on Twitter, with majority of tweets expressing hope for change in the 2022 polls. While the multitude of tweets gave us hope that many Filipinos are now clamoring for change, it is not enough. Tweeting is not enough, but actual voting is.

Elections have always been a time when everybody becomes a leader — it is a time when everybody can prompt change and progress. Taking the steps to register as a voter and go to polling precincts to cast your vote already make you a leader. 

What happened in America gives me hope, and I wish it does the same for every Filipino wanting to see the end to such an indecent administration. Hopefully, one day, we can also have that promising “Biden moment.” – Rappler.com

Juju Z. Baluyot is a television producer and writer.