An unwelcome change
America needed change. But not this way. Many people in Myanmar and around the world looked on in horror last week as the Republican candidate Donald Trump won the US presidential race against Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. To say it was a shock for many people in the US and around the world would be an understatement. This has been the most divisive election in US history.
Over the last year, in rallies around the United States, Mr Trump has shown himself to be an ill-informed racist, misogynist, sexual predator, bully and authoritarian who, in the words of one critic, should not be put in charge of a boy scout troop, let alone lead the most powerful nation on earth with a finger poised over the nuclear button. While his acceptance speech in the early hours of November 9 was prepared and toned down, the damage has been done. America is more deeply divided than it has ever been.
Why should this matter to Myanmar or any other country in the world?
Trump’s win in America marks a turning point in history, even - it might be argued - the beginning of the end of American empire and influence around the world. Current US President Barack Obama was not perfect, but he stands in stark contrast to the man who has shown himself to be a fascist and fool who looks set to throw the democratic and social gains hammered out over the last few years into hard reverse.
To be fair, the world needs to stand nervously by and wait until the new American leader takes up office in January 2017 and view the presidency cautiously as the months roll out. It can only be hoped that more reasonable voices within Trump’s coterie will help restrain some of the knee-jerk responses of this man who has been likened to a four-year-old bully in a school yard.
But there are many reasons why people around the world are worried. Since the end of World War II, the United States has stood tall as the world’s most powerful nation with both diplomatic and military outreach. Critics may complain about Washington’s interference and military adventures in dozens of countries over this period. But typically the man in charge – whether Republican or Democrat –has approached the office of the most powerful person in the world with a sense of gravitas and maturity, by and large seeking to pull the country together, not divide it.
Now with Mr Trump about to take office, with a collection of followers who do not offer a sense of confidence, it is unclear not only how he will fare domestically but also how much he might disrupt existing bilateral and international relations.
As one disgruntled American voter put it: “I can only hope that, come January when he and his family move into the White House, he will take the gravity of the office of President of the United States seriously. I can only hope that he will not offend and challenge leaders of our allied nations at every turn. And now, as I prepare to say my prayers and go to sleep, I can only say God bless America. Goodnight.”