Successes & Failures of 2016 U.S. Elections — Part 21


by Sunil J. Wimalawansa

Richness is not one having a lavish lifestyle and comforts, high earnings, large savings or investments, ability for spending, or power and control.  You achieve richness when you have serenity in the mind and do not need any more and can give way what you have with a true feeling of happiness and compassion.

Renegotiating trade agreements:

(January 24, 2017, Washington, D.C, Sri Lanka Guardian) To fulfill one of his promises, Mr. Trump initiated an executive action today to withdraw United States from the unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  This is a trade agreement that the Obama administration signed with 11 other nations around the Pacific, but excluding China.  As per the president, U.S. is reminding other countries that it can restrict $2.2 trillion in imports to right alleged wrongs coming from trading partners.  This is up to renegotiations now.

Prior to his election victory, Mr. Trump stated that he wants to impose across-the-board tariffs of 35% on goods made in China, Mexico or other countries and shipped to the Unites States.  In recent days, however, he has softened his stance on this.  Nevertheless, his picks for cabinet secretaries and economic advisers demonstrate that he is serious about putting pressure on the countries that export to the U.S.

Tariffs, World Trade Organization and U.S. trade-laws:

Click on the image to read the previous parts of this series

Regarding this, he is also about to initiate renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Today, he also announced his impending meetings with prime ministers of Canada and Mexico, within the next few days.  It is expected that Robert Lighthizer, an experienced trade lawyer will lead the U.S. trade representative team with these negotiations.  Negotiating with good faith to support American business is a good thing.  However, imposing large tariffs may start a protracted trade-war, hurt international businesses, and raise prices for the consumer.  Thus, some congressional Republicans are likely to oppose restricting trade liberalization.

Under the American law and World Trade Organization agreements, U.S. Administration can introduce safeguards to shelter domestic industries threatened by certain imports, such a steel, on temporary basis.  Nevertheless, these legal protections can target only import items, not specific country.  If U.S. opted this route, the task will be left to the U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent, bipartisan agency outside the control of the executive branch.   Thus, White House is unlikely to micro-manage the mechanics.

Time to set aside differences and be united as Americans:

For the betterment of the country, both major political parties getting together should be the right practice following general elections in America.  Instead, what we see is a deeply divided Congress on party lines especially in the house, with few exceptions.  It is sad to see this situation in the world’s largest and one of the most established democracy.  America should be a role model for democracy and not chaos.  Disruptors for personal and political gain should be made accountable and dealt with in the next election appropriately, through the ballot box.

It is noteworthy, that the constituents are watching the behavior of Senate and House representatives’ leadership.  Those who continue to disrupt the development, progress, and the prosperity of the country, from either political party are likely to be penalized by voters at the next set of general elections in 2018 and in 2020.  Country needs doers in the Congress, not blockers of the progress.

The progress of the country is in the hands of the Congress: 

What the country and the new president expect is prompt, bipartisan approval of the cabinet secretaries (not holding them up for political reasons and to ‘score’ points), policies for national development, unity to protect the country, and enhance prosperity.  Whether one supported or not, once elected to the office everyone should support the president and give him or her a chance to implement set of policies to move the country forward and keep safe.  That is patriotism.

The United States and the rest of the world population are fed up witnessing childish behavior in politicians and the incapacity of the losing party to accept the defeat and moving forward.  People have the right to protest.  However, protesting for the sake of remonstrating, due to the inability to accept their failure(s), or engage in violence, are not acceptable norms.  Following the November 2016 election, people are enthusiastically expecting peace and unity, sensible and forward-looking progress, tangible infrastructure development, and creation of jobs and prosperity.

Opposition-induced pandemonium: 

Irrespective of political differences, the president elect must be given a chance to demonstrate his vision, the commitments and promises he made into reality, and exhibit he and his team’s capabilities, wished for by millions of constituents.  It is silly and sad to see that the billionaire investors’, Hollywood folks, left-wing groups, and the opposition party, collectively creating platforms across the country setting up plans to fail the new president, from the day one in his office.

This is not the true democracy, one would expect in America.  The new president must be given a chance till the next election to materialize his promises.  If he fails is expected duties, then all constituents will have the opportunity to replace him and elect a new president in 2020.  If he succeeds in accomplishing even 70% of what he promised, the country will no doubt vote him back to the office for an addition 4 years. 

The country desperately needs peace, unity, harmony, and prosperity: 

After the election, hard-core supporters of the Trump campaign have become the dominant but restrained public stream. On the other hand, some Democrats (presumably a minority) is still unable to accept the defeat and instigating disharmony in the country.  Any disagreement should be resolve via dialogue, not through violence and destruction.

It is essential to eliminate the clashes between extreme party elements, opportunists, and those who are prompting apparent racism.  This can be achieved by not funding violence, damping down the rhetoric from both parties, especially by the leader; instead, they should be role models.  No matter what, it is essential to maintain law and order.  Law enforcement authorities should take appropriate proactive and sensible actions to prevent such.

Reconciliations are necessary:

Both parties have the moral obligation not to inflame the situation, initiate violence, or create civil disobedience.  While peaceful protests are allowed under the constitution, there is no room for any kind of violence or exploitation of the situation.  No matter who initiates disturbances, extremism and marginalization, these have dangerous consequences and easily spin out of control.  There is no place for such undemocratic processes in this country.

In this regard, the Trump-Pence administration must be tactical, firm, appoint qualified and capable people to the government positions (e.g., not restricted to one group or trait of people), and careful in making long-lasting decisions for the betterment of the country.  Opportunities should be given to the most qualified, effective people, dedicated for public service, irrespective of color, race, or politics, while avoiding nepotism, favoritism to friends (different from loyalty), and extremists.  The path for a rosy future for America is clear, but how one gets there is not.

To be Continued

Professor Sunil J. Wimalawansa MD, PhD, MBA, DSc, is a Physician-Scientist, Social Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Educator with strategic long-term vision.
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