Passing on the baton
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DONALD Trump will be sworn in as United States’ (U.S.) 45th president on Friday. The inauguration is expected to be accompanied by the traditional ceremony and peaceful transition of power from one president to another. America has pride itself on this aspect of its democracy, notwithstanding some evidence to the contrary.

The 2016 presidential election captivated the world’s attention, in part given U.S’ role in global politics, who the candidates were, and allegations of foreign interference in the electoral process. There is no denying the significant role the U.S plays in influencing international politics, consistent with its domestic/national interest and the president’s world view.

The global economy was affected by U.S’ liberalisation of its economy, which began during the Ronald Reagan years, where the role of government was significantly reduced and the private sector promoted as the engine of growth. The neoliberal approach to the financial system saw countries being influenced to do likewise.

With neoliberalism came de-regulation of the financial markets which created opportunities for rouge elements to exploit, resulting in a global recession about 8-12 years ago. In the U.S economy it was said to be the “greatest recession since the Great Depression.” The world was not spared the adverse consequences of the U.S’ big banks and Wall Street imploding.

Then Presidents Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar sought to assure us Guyana was not impacted. But those who relied on remittances- cash or kind- knew such were scaled back, as overseas loved ones had to grapple with U.S changing economic realities, which impacted on their disposable income locally.

Barack Obama, in part won the 2008 election to not only end the Middle East wars but also to address the economy, job loss, high unemployment, and evaporating money investments. To his administration’s credit stimulus programmes were injected that not only jump-started the economy, allowed for re-hiring and new types of jobs, lent support to failing banks, extended unemployment benefits, helped the housing market, but also saved the local car industry and brought confidence back into the economy. This bouncing back impacted the world’s economy.

The modus operandi to governance changed, consistent with Obama’s described “smart government,” that there are some things government has to do that the people cannot do for themselves. For instance, laws were passed to regulate the behaviour of the financial sector with defining implications for acceptable and unacceptable rules of engagement, in the U.S and global economy. This was also followed through in international trade agreements.

Foreign policy on governance focused on impressing on governments to uphold principles of human rights and the rule of law. This included removal of discrimination, stamping out corruption, allowing institutions of state to work, and confronting money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In April 2009 Vice-President, Joe Biden, participating in the Summit of the Americas, held in Trinidad, laid out the administration’s policy position, which was followed through with technical and other support.

The Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) was elevated to that of a Cabinet position, which spoke to the value attached to this institution, its principles, and member-states. Domestic policy on Climate Change saw the U.S playing a leading role in influencing the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, approved by 196 countries, and came into effect 5th January 2017. Leading role was also played in addressing the global refugee and migration crisis. During the 2016 UN Annual General Assembly, Obama announced success in getting over 50 nations and organisations to pledge US $4.5 billion in Refugee Aid to groups assisting the displaced find work and education, of which the U.S contributed $1 billion.

Normalising of US/Cuba relation, which Guyana pushes for, saw steady advancement beginning in 2014. The administration also distinguished itself by placing greater emphasis on civil engagements and talking through differences across the table rather than through the barrel of a gun. A benefit of that was the Iran Nuclear Deal.

To the above Trump has expressed dissimilar views during the election campaign and as president-elect. Should he follow through, via policies and laws, such could carry consequences for the global economy, environment, human rights, and governance. Small state societies like ours experiencing conflicts in valuing and enforcing good governance, and in some instances lacking resources to do so, could be adversely impacted and the masses’ desires deferred.

Outside of tweets and a press conference since being elected, Trump’s acceptance speech will be parsed, and the global community and world leaders will look for inkling(s) as to his overarching view of America’s relationship with them during his leadership.

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