Mahrukh A Mughal
In The US Presidential Election 2016 there is a race for the Republican candidates towards White House with the front-runner Donald Trump right in the middle of it. Trump has become popular for the manner in which he speaks and makes an outlandish statement. His candidacy is a marked departure from Republican orthodoxy, since he dismissed NATO as “obsolete” and needs to be radically framed away from its Cold War structure and be capable of fighting threats like ISIS. There is little value in the US military commitments in Asia Pacific region by supporting South Korea and Japan, which he sees as free riders on US.
In an interview on Meet the Press Trumps said, “We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the mad man, (Leader of the North Korea) and them.. We get practically nothing compared to the cost of this (involvement)”. While Mr. Trump views US involvement in the Korean peninsula and around the world as a monetary and strategic cost, most Republications regard international engagement as a tremendous strategic benefit.
He is also against free-trade agreements. Trump says that he will do anything with in is his power not to touch social security, to leave it the way it is; to make this country rich again. His promise to protect social security shows he has benefited politically from Jettisoning Republican economic orthodoxy in favor of a populist platform. He was much criticized by many on the left and some on the right as being a toxic virus that exists on the fringes of the political mainstream.
He is over all moderates except the policy prescriptions on the topic of emigration. He likes to boast that he put the topic of immigration on the map in the Republican campaign. With his condemnation of undocumented Mexican migrants and calls to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and temporarily prevent all Muslims from entering the US, a bit may be an exaggeration but he has owned the issue.
The Republican front-runner Donald Trump is a Celebrity builder with no previous political experience. He is quick witted, charismatic and during years as a reality television star has built an outrageous public persona around his gargantuan ego. “I am Intelligent”, he likes to say. A former propagator of conspiracy theories about Barrack Obama’s place of birth, Mr. Trump is now dishing out the same treatment to his closest challengers, Ted Cruz’s. The notion of Mr. Trump, who is backed by around 35% of Republican Voters, as a Presidential nominee is alarming. His immigration policy, his announcement to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports will greatly disturb foreign policy of US. So far, Donald Trump is soundly in the lead of the Republican race with the chance at winning the 1,237 delegates needs to cement the Republican nomination at the national convention in July.
Meanwhile Hillary Clinton continuous as the front-runner in the Democratic nominating contest, though Bernie Sanders have picked up momentum in some of the smaller states. In order to make up ground Sanders would need to win more than 70% at the remaining pledged delegates. His economic idea is common with mainstream parties of the left in the rest of the west-the labor or social democrat parties.
It has long been said by disenchanted left wing people that America has no left wing party–just a right wing and a moderate right wing party, so Sanders has an appeal to the liberals and left. Where would Hillary end up on the spectrum if she wins the nomination? Not only is Hillary Clinton in 2016 nearly identically placed with George W Bush in 2004 economically, but also Barack Obama’s in 2012, is only a moderate shift to the left of his predecessor eight years earlier. However, in 2008 Obama was to the left of John Kerry. All that shows a pendulum shift that the American people are much more moderate and even more centrist than the right wing Hillary Clinton is in 2016.
The tendency to surrender the center, and shift to the right is a serious problem for the Democratic Party that shows it never got over the loss of the South. This in turn has disheartened Liberal voters, which have fueled continued rightward pandering in a vicious circle. Hillary Clinton is continuing the cycle. She’s repudiating the left this time, targeting Sanders for being unrealistic on economics. Clinton is spreading the narrative that the left and economics are not compatible. She is unwittingly starting a fire that future democrats will have to put out in an effort to win southern white voters in a general election.
Clinton has done in the 2008 election, by circulating a picture of Obama dressed in traditional Somali garb in order to stir fears that he was a Muslim. Simultaneously Hillary is resorting to these tactics because she is ignoring the defining issues of our time: the wealth gap and systematic corruption that has resulted from years of a laissez-faire regulatory approach to economy and campaign finance. This election, and every election following until change occurs, will come down to these issues.
As accusations of dishonesty have flown between Trump, Cruz and Rubio, voters say they are most apt to see Trump as honest and trustworthy. In several surveys when asked who of the five candidates is most honest and trustworthy, 35% name Trump, 22% Carson who has largely stayed out of the mudslinging 14% Cruz and 13% Rubio. Rubio suspended his presidential campaign in a heartfelt speech after suffering a crushing defeat to Trump in Rubio’s home state of Florida. As he has throughout the campaign spent much of the speech wrestling with the implications of Trump’s rise in the Republication party. “America is in the middle of a real political storm, a real Tsunami, and we should have seen this coming”, Rubio said, “Look people are angry and people are really frustrated.”
The most obvious figure was Ted Cruz, a long time darling of the tea party. But Donald Trump has proved more adept at giving voice to the politics of frustration and rise even though he is not a Tea Party candidate. The Great Recession ended in the summer on 2009. Since then, the US economy has been growing, but most incomes have not grown comparably. In some US elections candidates from different parties want to discuss different issues.
The 2016 elections have been different. Both the parties are interested in talking about many of the same issues, offering dramatically proposals on how to solve problems. In terms of domestic policy, many of the issues center on the economy. For democrats, they are trying to capitalize on what has been a fairly successful economy under President Obama. Republicans also focus on the economy, discussing the recovery not as a success but as weak and insufficient.
The most likely democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has taken more hawkish policy positions than many recent democratic candidates, presumably bringing her position closer to the more traditionally hawkish Republican side. Though foreign policy cannot be ignored in the presidential election debate; however it only affects the voter when there is an event like 9/11.
—The author, based in Lahore, writes on political and international issues.