November 7, 2016
Los Angeles, California
The 2016 elections are thankfully, almost over, assuming Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump score a decisive victory in the Electoral College after the polls close on November 8, and the results are willingly accepted by the parties and people, as has been the case since the end of the American Civil War.
After what has been an extremely bitter contest, hopefully the America that I love and respect as a U.S. citizen — which embraced my immigrant family since we arrived from Vietnam over 40 years ago and has given us precious opportunities to assimilate, will be able to heal and adjust to the daunting challenges ahead.
So much is at stake in this historic election as it will redefine the direction of the world’s most powerful, diverse and innovative nation. Many in the world admire America’s integrity and ideals, though are quite anxious about how the outcome of this presidential election may shape America’s borders and engagement globally. Judging from the movements of the U.S. stock exchange and the Mexican peso, the markets favor a steady, political hand over an untested and disruptive force.
On the one hand, Hillary Clinton is an extremely qualified woman with sound temperament and over four decades of meaningful public service and foreign policy experience. My brief personal encounters with Hillary Clinton occurred while I was living in Geneva and Washington DC. On these occasions, she was engaged with pressing global issues as she attended as First Lady the 1998 WTO Ministerial Conference and 50th anniversary commemoration of the multilateral trading system in Geneva, and was a featured speaker as a U.S. Senator at the Vital Voices Leadership Awards celebrating brave women in Washington DC in 2006. I admire her devotion to shining a light on vulnerable populations — including those struggling with poverty, discrimination and globalization. On a personal level, I went from a conservative Republican upbringing to a more liberal and worldly perspective, and decided to support her in the 2008 presidential primary campaign, as I wholeheartedly do now in the 2016 elections.
The alternative, Donald Trump is an erratic, anti-establishment candidate with scant knowledge or appreciation of America’s political institutions and global affairs, who has also disparaged people based on gender, race, religion, immigration status, disability, to name a few. He has demagogic tendencies and is prone to spreading lies (with over 70 percent false statements as fact-checked by PolitiFact). He has also threatened to unravel critical security alliances like NATO and agreements on trade and climate change, which would seriously undermine peace, prosperity and sustainability. As a trade specialist, I can recognize the need to refine market-access commitments and enforce trade rules to “level the playing field” — but retreating from long-standing treaties and erecting questionable tariff barriers will impede the ability of U.S. businesses to succeed, compete and create higher-paying jobs.
As an American immigrant, teacher, entrepreneur and global executive — I am in a good position to recognize that population shifts and shocks arising from globalization will continue to reshape my American homeland and its 324 million citizens as well as the 7.4 billion or 95 percent of the population outside of the country. Livelihoods are vulnerable to the forces of commerce, mobility and technology. For better or worse, these trends are inevitable and the America that was, will never be the same. Change is hard and time is merciless as it moves forward, even if many people want to retreat inward or to a nostalgic era. Yet, there is still much potential for Americans to become more prosperous through our enterprising spirit and stronger in our diversity.
This defining presidential elections will likely test the viability of U.S. democracy, social equality and tolerance in the world’s most multi-cultural nation. America can continue to inspire and provide much needed leadership in the world. The alternative, unfortunately, can result in geopolitical chaos as the world becomes less safe and more poor.
Voting responsibly this year is so critical to advancing ideals of Americanism at home and abroad, and for generations ahead. We will bear responsibility for shaping the course and destiny of the American republic on November 8, 2016. #ImWithHer