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Learn from Trump’s setbacks in US

WE could learn from the ongoing difficulties faced by the Trump administration in the United States.

President Donald Trump suffered his first major setback in February when he issued an executive order banning the entry of travelers from seven mainly Muslim countries, which was quickly rejected by the courts in several states for violating the constitutional ban on religious discrimination. He revised the order, reducing the seven banned nations to six, but this was also rejected by the courts on the same grounds. A Hawaii court added one other reason – the strict restrictions would damage the state’s tourism industry which depends heavily on visitors. This was Strike One against Trump’s move to tighten the rules against the entry of foreigners out of a fear of terrorist attacks.

Strike Two came last week. President Trump failed to get Congress to approve his healthcare plan which he hoped would replace his predecessor’s Obamacare. Trump’s attack on Obamacare had been a major part of his election campaign but when he finally moved to replace it with his own plan, he could not get the needed number of votes for approval in the US Congress – where his own Republican Party has the majority.

This dismal record in the first two months of the Trump administration has raised questions about the prospects of his other major issues, notably tax reform and infrastructure spending. If he strikes out on his next advocacy, it would be a major setback for the new US president whose high-flying ideas are coming face to face with the reality of American government and politics.

This same reality of democratic give-and-take exists in Philippine government and politics. Thus far, our own President Duterte has managed to get his way in his most important advocacies, particularly his campaign against the drug menace. On some other issues, he has shown a readiness to make adjustments. He has, for example, navigated his way rather skillfully in Philippine foreign relations with the US, China, Russia, and the rest of the world.

Leaders of democratic nations would do well to keep in mind at all times that the views of other leaders are also important – not only those in government but also in other sectors of society and the national life such as the church, business and civic groups, and the academe – and must be considered in major decisions.

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