Junta Backers Dream of Validation in US Coup

Four protestors hold signs as a large group takes part in a demonstration in opposition of Donald Trump's presidential election victory on Friday at Washington Square Park in New York. Photo: Dake Kang / Associated Press

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Trump, Trump, Trump. Everyone is talking about Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 US Presidential Election on Wednesday.

In Thailand, following the race and the ensuing anti-Trump protests from California to New York has taken a Thai twist.

Some Thais are seeing political polarization in the United States through their domestically polarized lenses.

Junta supporters are using the images of anti-Trump protesters burning objects, including one defecating in public, as proof Americans are no better than Thais at respecting democracy.

Oh, how sweet it would be if there was to be a coup to oust Trump in the coming weeks. Thais who are junta-supporters would be jubilant and feel vindicated, as they would no longer have to hear American lecturing on the merits of respecting the public’s electoral rights and the evils of military dictatorship.

On Twitter, @LastIFound, a self-proclaimed “independent thinker” and “productivity-improvement coach” who frequently speaks in defense of the coup, tweeted that ousted fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra is similar to Trump.

Pravit Rojanaphruk“They never had any extreme president in the past that could be so extreme as to cause shock as Trump. Perhaps they haven’t seen one [until now], so they think elections are good without exception.”

In another tweet, @LastIFound opined: “In the future, when Americans poke their noses onto Thai politics with lack of understanding as to why so many Thais oppose Thaksin, simply reply: ‘It’s just like people in your country opposing Trump.’”

Thai junta supporters who have endured criticism from the democratic West, the U.S. included, for the coups of 2006 and 2014, which ousted Thaksin and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, say they feel partly vindicated as some Americans refuse to call Trump their president.

They ignore that the protests are overwhelmingly peaceful and not seeking military intervention to topple Trump, as junta supporters have helped twice happen in Bangkok.

A democratic framework allows protests for precisely this reason – a safe release valve for dissent and frustration when one side invariably loses.

Junta supporters’ desire to see a coup in the United States will remain a daydream.

In Thailand, politicians aware they will lose in elections sow unrest in the streets to create a pretext for a military coup, as happened in 2006 and 2014. In Washington, both President Barack Obama and defeated candidate Hillary Clinton have made it clear Trump prevailed, and they support a smooth transfer of power.

Obama spoke at the White House hours after the results came out that peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of American democracy.

Meanwhile, Clinton urged her supporters to accept the results, be open-minded about Trump and give him a “chance to lead.”

Although the protests against Trump are still ongoing today, I do not think there will be as many sore losers there as here. The majority of Americans who supported Clinton will learn to “suck it up” and closely scrutinize Trump as president, and wait for the next national elections in two years. Thailand, on the other hand, has come to a halt politically for years now, even before the May 2014 coup.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story identified Twitter use LastIFound as a junta supporter. Although he regularly posts messages defending the overthrow of democratic government, he insists he does not support the junta.