The world is watching: US election developments

BABE’S EYE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON D.C. - Ambassador B. Romualdez - The Philippine Star

In the coming months, close to 60 countries will be having elections, but none as consequential as the elections in the United States. Additionally, the world is going through a lot of challenges that continue to make it difficult for many countries to recover from the pandemic, among them climate change, the war in Ukraine, the escalating conflicts in the Middle East and tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

The ongoing NATO drill dubbed as “Steadfast Defender 2024” – said to be the biggest NATO military exercises since the end of the Cold War – participated in by 31 NATO allies and Sweden involving 90,000 troops and personnel, over 1,100 combat vehicles as well as 50-plus warships and over 81 air platforms, is raising concerns about the war in Ukraine spreading across Europe.

According to Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Christopher Cavoli, Steadfast Defender 2024 will demonstrate the ability of the Alliance “to reinforce the Euro-Atlantic area via trans-Atlantic movement of forces from North America.”

The exercises will test new defense plans and see how quickly US forces could be deployed to reinforce their European allies in countries bordering Russia and the eastern flank of the alliance. The drills, which will continue until May, “will be a clear demonstration of our unity, our strength and our determination to protect each other, to protect our values and the rules-based international order,” General Cavoli said.

The Oct. 7 attack of the terrorist group Hamas against Israel and the consequent war in Gaza has also stoked fears that a full-scale war between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah could spill over to the Middle East.

Many say that we are living in an increasingly “VUCA” world marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – with 2024 set to be a historic, record-breaking year because over 50 countries will be holding national elections that could affect the lives of over two billion voters across Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Experts say that among the consequential poll exercises are the ones in the UK, India, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia (although some critics claim this would be a mere “rubber stamp” activity) as well as the Taiwan elections held last January because of their potential global impact.

But the elections that people are closely watching would be the November 2024 presidential elections in the United States because the outcome would be of great consequence to the foreign policy of the US, which in turn could impact the situation in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific region. Obviously, the big question right now in the minds of leaders and many people across the globe is – who is going to be the next president of the United States: will it still be Joe Biden, or will the world see a Trump 2.0?

To say that developments are heating up in the US political scene would be an understatement, especially after the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court to disqualify former president Donald Trump from the state’s Republican primaries and remove his name from the primary ballot.

During the hearing that lasted for more than two hours, the justices – who come from both sides of the political spectrum – seemed doubtful of the legal authority of a state to disqualify candidates in a federal election by deciding who gets to appear on the ballot because of the possibility that this could lead to partisan decisions.

“I would expect that a goodly number of states will say, ‘Whoever the Democratic candidate is, you’re off the ballot’ and others, for the Republican candidate, ‘You’re off the ballot.’ And it’ll come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election,” Chief Justice John Roberts put it, describing it to be a “pretty daunting consequence.”

Justice Elena Kagan was even more blunt in her remarks: “Why should a single state get to decide who gets to be president of the United States?”

The justices also noted that “insurrection” is a broad term, and that the language in Section 3 of the 14th amendment which bars any “officer of the United States” who has taken an oath to support the Constitution but “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office, is “vague” as it did not specify the president or vice president in the long list of elected position that the section applies to.

The justices also indicated the opinion that Section 3 cannot be applied unless Congress enacts legislation first that would allow it.

Aside from Colorado, one other state that has disqualified the former president from the presidential primary ballot is Maine, with 15 more cases having been filed in various states that include New York, Texas and Virginia.

But regardless of who becomes president, we are pleased to have friends from both sides of the aisle, continually working with them, making sure that the relationship that we have been able to sustain over the years remains strong not only in terms of security cooperation but particularly in the economic aspect.

In fact, we can expect more business activity with the United States in the coming months, such as the reinvigorated US-Philippines Society with a lot of new members composed of top American companies arriving next week. Next month, we will be expecting a large US Presidential Trade Mission headed by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Without a doubt, I am extremely confident that our relationship with the United States will continue to thrive even beyond the November US presidential elections.

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