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Swing-for-the-fences match leaves Trump’s neck dangling by the ropes

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Nov 09, 2020 12:05 am Updated Nov 09, 2020 1:02 am

While an official analysis of the overall tally in the US elections remains forthcoming, we’re seeing the fulfillment of a prediction made earlier by president-elect Joe Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon.

“We are unfazed by Trump's desperate attempt to hold on to these elections. We know, as we have said in the beginning, that the American people will decide this election. We are confident on our path to victory,” Dillon said in a video feed uploaded on Biden’s Twitter account on the day of the U.S. elections.

The crucial point came when the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan joined Biden’s blue ranks during the final few days of the race. This left Biden and incumbent president Donald Trump battling for Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), which ultimately gave Biden 273, with Trump glued to 213. 

It was touch-and-go for a while back there for Biden when Florida fell in the hands of Trump. Florida is where the much-awaited Latino vote hung by the nail bites of Trump’s unremitting attacks against leftist leaders of Latin America, as one expert said. There was simply no way for Biden to pull the rabbit out of that hat.

Regardless, the Biden campaign’s confidence came from a solid ethnic vote which may have provided Democrats the ultimate back swing. They gunned for the ground-and-pound stratagem dominated largely by African American, Asian American, Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese votes.

Based on the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey conducted by the APIA Vote, AAPI Data, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) in mid-September this year, Asian Americans will trek to the polls at a high 91%, with Asian Indian hitting a high 98%, followed by Japanese and Filipinos at 96% and 95%, respectively.

Biden secure the US presidential elections after winning the key battleground state of Pennsylvania
Biden secures the U.S. presidential elections after winning the battleground state of Pennsylvania

The same survey showed that there are more Filipinos gunning for the Democrat (28%) than the Republican candidate (7%), but leaving a wide 57% demographic as undecided.

If these figures are indicative of where the Filipino vote would go, apparently, Biden may have had the upper hand with 53% and Trump with only 31%.

I took the liberty of consulting a good friend, Lila Shahani, whose stay in Seattle, Washington gave her access to poll studies which she generously shared with me. A volunteer in the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris campaign trail and former Secretary-General at UNESCO-Philippine National Commission, Shahani said that Filipino-Americans are the fourth largest minority group in the United States. “Asian-Americans,” she added, “constitute around 11 million”.

Shahani explained that Fil-Am Republicans lean toward issues surrounding abortion and the lowering of taxes. They identify, too, with Trump’s authoritarianism, anti-democratic practices, and the US Trade War with China. 

Their Fil-Am Democrat counterparts, on the other hand, tend to believe that the U.S. Trade War has been largely unsuccessful. They insist that China’s incursions into the West Philippine Sea ought to be restricted not by a trade war, but through the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The largely liberal Democrats focused on human rights and race issues, Shahani continued, including matters dealing with immigration, healthcare and climate justice. Biden’s plans to expand the Affordable Care Act—signed by former Pres. Barack Obama on March 23, 2010—has remained a pivotal subject in the ongoing discourse on the Covid-19 pandemic.

As for President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, Biden’s investment in diplomacy could mean the opening of doors to a more liberal and humanitarian approach to the issue of drug trafficking

 

On the question of Biden and Asia, particularly the Philippines, the president-elect’s entry into the Southeast Asian geopolitical sphere is vital to the U.S. standing in the region, what with China flexing its muscles within the disputed West Philippine Sea. 

While Trump’s White House made a sporadic show of force against the People’s Republic, even visa restrictions and raising tariffs on Chinese imports, it cannot be denied that Donald J. Trump had also cozied up with autocrats, including China’s Pres. Xi Jinping. 

Experts believe that an “investment in diplomacy” would mark the Biden presidency, redressing shortfalls in the balance of power in the region without the stark contradictions Trump was notorious for. 

I would even hazard to say that Biden might apply more consistent pressure on China to recognize the Hague ruling on Philippine claims, which would be good for all allies concerned. He had promised to create “an international coalition with other democracies that China can't afford to ignore”. How this would pan out in the next four years remains to be seen.

As for President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, Biden’s investment in diplomacy could mean the opening of doors to a more liberal and humanitarian approach to the issue of drug trafficking. Pressuring Duterte to turn the tide of assassinations and impunity may prove problematic at first, knowing Duterte’s dislike of being told. However, and not that we need foreign intervention, but America might find a way to keep the bloodbath from getting any worse than it is.

Reforms in American criminal justice, in the wake of growing race protests, come at an opportune time. Biden had promised US20 billion grant program to minority communities, including Filipino-Americans. But more than Biden, I am looking closely at Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to step up the game.

Biden’s insistence on facing up to the responsibilities demanded by the Covid-19 pandemic by listening more to science than medical fallacies may be good for all, Americans and Filipinos alike. They can begin by making good their plan of investing US$25 billion in a vaccine for manufacturing and distribution.

As of this writing, the United States pegs an estimated 9.38 million Covid-19 cases and a death toll of 231,000. 

One thing is certain as of the moment: with Trump out of the way, autocrats the world over have lost an ally, and democracy and human rights may find their second wind. 

As for the United States under a Biden presidency, the job of mending wounds left by Trump will be daunting for sure, but not impossible.