Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Re-electionist President Trump is caught in the vise of enforcing stiff restrictions on social distancing and quarantine, even as he courts votes from Americans already rebelling vs. those restrictions. With 36.5 million Americans losing their jobs in US due to the pandemic, Trump gets crustier by the day as Democrat rival Joe Biden seems to be cherry-picking votes. Tough luck to run for re-election amidst the pandemic.

The two contenders for this November's presidential elections in the US, Donald Trump and Joe Biden

All over the world there seems to be a coronavirus fatigue and there's a lot of pressure internationally to cautiously abandon the lock-down imposed by various governments and open up various  economies and societies. It's a tough balancing act that will be demanded from country leaders as their people have grown tired of staying indoors and practicing social distancing in public places.

Peoples most everywhere in the Western world, it seems, have been  craving for the fun and excitement of the outdoors and the beaches this summer, and in social events where they want to throw social distancing to the winds.   

It's truly tough and this is true all over the world, be it in the US, in Europe, and in South America.  In the temperate countries that are counting spring days moving into summer's warmth, especially in a society as free as the US, it could take armies to stop people from going to the beaches and holding pre-summer parties and picnics, as well as concerts in the parks. Those perks have been their way of life for generations. 

 It is estimated that at least 10,000 more Americans could lose their lives in this re-opening of communities.  The tragedy, however, is that there seems to be a full-blown rebellion in America against any and all restrictions---it's the we-don't-care rebellion. 


In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is ready to throw up her hands as her constituents threaten to rebel if she doesn't lighten up on rules and regulations governing gatherings and beach sorties. The same pressures are found in Spain and Italy. 

 In the United Kingdom spring weather is warming up and folks are just as restless indoors, despite all the warnings about social distancing and slowing down on opening such places as barbershops and nail salons, to avoid spiking up the virus. 

The problem is that all the late spring and early summer activities could shoot up to new highs in the world-wide battle vs. Covid 19.  A second wave could bring more than a million stricken and tens of thousands of new deaths in the Western Hemisphere. 


What complicates things for the US President and his team is that national presidential elections will be held this November and he is running for reelection in what's becoming a very unpopular contest for him vs. Democrat Joe Biden---the guy who has nothing to do with limiting public gatherings and enforcing social distancing. 

As Trump becomes increasingly caustic and sarcastic with the media, Biden is pulling away, as per election polls.  Due to all the pressures on the poor fellow to allow restless Americans to have their annual fun at the beaches, President Trump has become increasingly unpopular---as daily statistics show his Democratic opponent sprinting ahead of him in the popular polls.  

Trump's increasingly poor performance at the polls is, in turn, reflected in his increasingly caustic attitude toward the media---with CNN as the lead battering ram vs. Trump.


Democratic candidate Joe Biden faces the issue of having allegedly molested a woman staffer in the past, which he stoutly denies;  the allegation, however, does not seem to dent his campaign---simply because the lock-down is damaging Trump.  Joe Biden, in fact, does not even have to campaign, it seems, as all the pent-up frustrations of the American people against the coronavirus appear to be vent upon the haplessTrump. 

The more vexed, sullen and fretful the Republican candidate appears each day towards the American people and the media, the more he loses support and votes.  Indeed, Trump has been pretty crusty these past days, especially to the media---with CNN appearing all out to get him.    

As a reelectionist president, Donald Trump has every reason to deplore the various economic stats. The prevailing unemployment rate in the US today of 14.7% of the population---which means that an estimated 36.5 million Americans lost their jobs as of this month of May, six months into November's elections---is regarded as the worst since the Great Depression.  


There is a big contrast between the American and the Filipino public in relation to Covid 19.  While the Americans are fretting and even rebelling in many cases against the strict lock-downs and rigid rules and regulations governing social conduct in these present times, Filipinos appear far more obedient as a people---readily conforming to the stiff measures set by the Duterte administration in these pandemic times.

The Duterte administration has virtually shut down people in their own homes and villages, enforcing the use of face masks and threatening to arrest elderly folks found wandering around. The administration has, except in few place, enforced social distancing in normally crowded places. It is interesting to note that Filipinos are themselves most cooperative in this regard---unlike the rebellious Americans who outpace the Europeans in this trait.


It appears that the good behavior of the Pinoys stem from fear of contracting the deadly virus itself, as well as fear of contradicting the President who is known to get quite rough when he needs to. In this case, however, Mr. Duterte has reaped more obedience than sullen reactions, because the Pinoys are realistic about what could happen to them if the pandemic hits them hard---which, thank God,  hasn't because of the stiff lock-downs and other measures being strictly enforced here. 

The number of Filipinos afflicted with Covid 19 has spiked, but compared to how it has  gone haywire in Europe and the US, we are still alright and those afflicted count for quite low. Let's keep it that way.