Issues in US presidential elections

Loudmouthed Trump and self-styled “Democratic Socialist” Sanders have brought forth issues spin of party strategists

Dr Pervez Tahir July 30, 2015
The writer is currently visiting Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA.

November 8, 2016 is the date of the next US presidential elections. The first caucus in Ohio and the primary in New Hampshire is scheduled for February. Yet, campaigning has started as early as March 23 this year when the first hopeful announced his candidacy. By the third week of July, 16 Republicans and five Democrats had jumped into the fray. The number of the candidates and the length of the electioneering are unparalleled in the history of the United States.

However, the limelight has been stolen from the perceived frontrunners — the scions of Clintons and Bushes — by two spanners in the works. Donald Trump, a real estate billionaire and TV host on the Republican side, and Bernie Sanders, a Senator from Vermont on the Democrat side, are setting the agenda for their respective parties. Whatever their political leanings may be — whether right or left wing — both represent what an ordinary American wants to see. Not card-carrying party members, they are wont to air the untainted ‘outsider’ view on the two sides of the ideological spectrum.

Trump believes that the American dream — anyone working hard and honest can make it to the top — is dead. He is running to revive it because, as he claims unashamedly, the job requires someone who made it to the top. “It was not a straight walk”, admits the straight-talking Trump, as “the path was paved by lobbyists, special interests and big money. I am rich. I don’t need any of these. I will, therefore, do what is best for America.”

The entry point was provided by the issue of illegal immigrants, now known to number around 11 million, mostly from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Like the conservative in the street, he links immigration with the rising crime wave, drug culture and, most importantly, increasing joblessness. Most of the jobs being created are low-paying. He would cancel the free trade agreement with Mexico, send the illegals back and build a 2,000-mile wall to physically stop the new entrants. He cares not two hoots for the argument that the American labour market needs these low-paid workers. He is swearing to bring jobs back from China and would not let a de-sanctioned Iran use its new-found resources to threaten the United States and its allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. The role of the government will be to build a protective wall around the United States and bomb the hell out of any state or non-state hurting American interests abroad. Trump calls his campaign a movement to get rid of the corrupt.

Sanders also calls his campaign a movement, but in the other direction: to take down the billionaires and give the government back to the people. He is opposed to meddling in other countries’ affairs. He is reaching out to the grass roots in order to mobilise three million supporters to contribute $100 each towards his campaign. Glaring inequalities of wealth and class mobility are high on his platform. He does not fancy economic growth at the cost of the environment and human beings. To those dubbing his economic ideas radical, he tweeted: “You should hear what the Pope is saying.” The Pope has been describing economic inequality almost as a sin.

Hillary Clinton has been listening though: a greater socioeconomic role for the state in making big corporations socially responsible, green energy job programmes, higher minimum wage and greater role for the unions.

What happens eventually is wide open, but the loudmouthed Trump and the self-styled “Democratic Socialist” Sanders have brought forth issues without the paint job of party strategists and bipartisan or centrist double-speak.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st,  2015.

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Cool Henry | 8 years ago | Reply Hope the author mean Iowa and not Ohio
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