U.S. election makes ripples worldwide
As often is the case, Americans last year may have established a model to be emulated by the rest of the world. This one involves politics rather than technology or culture, and the ramifications could be earth-shaking.
Last year’s election of Donald Trump as U.S. president was not as much a triumph by the Republican against Democrat Hillary Clinton as it was a repudiation of the political establishment, as voters saw it. Whether or not Trump knows how to govern was not their point; they wanted to break a cycle and shake things up in a major way.
Now, similar rebellions are occurring elsewhere.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s position is in jeopardy after her Conservative Party suffered a severe defeat in elections last week. That may have something to do with anger over the recent terrorist attacks in England. May’s own comment that it is time to rethink British policies relevant to terrorism implies she understands her constituents are deeply unsettled.
Across the English Channel in France, Emmanuel Macron won overwhelmingly, which on one hand is a victory for the Euro-centric status quo but also can be seen as a push for change, since Macron is new to politics and ran on his own party rather than any of the established ones. His opponent, Marine Le Pen, fiercely opposed the establishment, but she and her party were not new. Her father, more right wing than she, advanced to the presidential runoff in 2002. Macron, like Trump, offered a fresh dish, an unknown voters could view with hope. Meanwhile, parliamentary elections in France last Sunday and this Sunday will indicate just how deep anti-establishment feeling is.
In South Korea, voters elected Moon Jae-in, who plans to step back a bit from his country’s longstanding alliance with the United States and try to make peace with North Korea. The latter is reminiscient of the “Sunshine Policy” of 1998 to 2008, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 but ended after North Korea tested nuclear weapons in 2006.
It would be foolish to predict that anti-establishment politics will topple the old order worldwide. However, U.S. officials need to consider how our country will react if what happened here becomes a trend.