My piece for Thai Enquirer:
Many Thais would have been asleep when the election results in Pennsylvania were finally called at nearly midnight, Bangkok time. Some of those who were awake greeted the news that former vice president Joe Biden had won the state, and with it the American presidency, with relief. President Donald Trump will not receive a second term.
That is unsurprising, perhaps. After four years of Trumpian turmoil, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Pew Center found that those around the world with favorable views of the United States are at record lows, and there is little confidence in the president himself.
Many Thais were amused at times by slips such as when Trump referred to the nonexistent country “Thighland,” but on the whole more would have simply felt repelled by presidential behavior that was unpresidential far too often.
Indeed, many had feared for the worst when Trump was elected. I still remember election day in 2016, friends gathered around a projector screen showing a map of the United States, watching as state after state turned red. Lunch was eaten with a sense of disbelief: what, exactly, were Americans thinking? And what would it mean for the world? It was easy to predict all sorts of mayhem. What else could one have thought when such a loose cannon was to be handed the nuclear codes?
In the end, the simple truth was that no one had much inkling of how a Trump administration might actually govern. So now that Joe Biden is president-elect and the Trump presidency will wrap up, barring any unexpected success in the challenges being mounted by a president unwilling to admit defeat, it would be fruitful to look back and cut through all the sound and chaos. What did Trump mean for Thailand?
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