Monday, February 29, 2016

Madame President?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

It is the end of February 2016, and the USA presidential elections are in full swing.  Unless something extraordinary happens Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party nominee and Donald Trump representative of the Republican Party.  Although the presidential elections are not until the end of 2016, the candidates from both parties (those who still remain in the race) have been hard at insulting each other.  The democrats in the race, Clinton and Sanders, although mostly civil so far, are beginning to get animated in their positioning in the Democratic Party, while the republicans are not addressing the issues but simply insulting and bashing each other.

Although the initial directives of each party were directed at one another’s party, now the insults are only at each other in their respective parties, this has been mainly in the Republican Party.  We no longer hear policies and progress, its insults and personal attacks.  One has to wonder how one of these men who aspire to represent the United States will become the statesman that will lead the world’s most powerful country.  The republican debates have become WWF contests with guys in dark suits.  Instead of fist cuffs the republicans trade choice words against each other, and they are no longer civil to one another.

At the end of the election cycle these men belong to the same political party (their politics are very different in the Republican Party).  Although Trump is new to politics his current platform is the Republican Party, and one has to see what happens in both scenarios; if he is the Republican Party’s nominee or he is not.  The Republicans have a huge political climb with or without Trump in the mix, as their message to the public is not being heard in the saber rattling between the current candidates.

While Hillary Clinton’s electoral performance to date has been as expected with its own challenges, she does look like the presumptive Democratic Party’s nominee, while Donald Trump’s political ascent has really become an anomaly that the political pundits have yet to understand and untwine.  Trump’s political ascent with such rapid trajectory is a phenomenon that the USA has yet to see in its political universe.  Trump wants to build a great USA-Mexico border wall, he wants to deport 12 million (a number that’s thrown around) undocumented and illegal aliens, he did not spare pope Francis, he says he wants to bomb the hell out of ISIS (this might be one issue where his support is exponential to anything else), stop Muslims from entering the USA, has issues with the Chinese, Japanese, Indians and anyone else who has a trade surplus with the USA, and the Europeans for various reasons, and just about every community that he can arbitrarily speak of, and every time he adds to his list of people he will go after, his support within the republican party seem to only go up.  Nothing seems to impact his politics and his supporters.  He sounds quite cavalier (almost from the old Westerns) and makes loud and brash statements about anything that comes to his mind.  The slogan make American great again, is distressing as the USA is the number one nation on earth in every which way, while it has many issues or economics, race, income and life inequality, trade deficits and certainly deficit spending.  It is unlikely anyone outside of the USA will pay for anything or will return any favors that are not in their own interest.  But when Trump says words, they seem to attract at least a section of Americans that like to listen to him.  The first thing that his audience forgets is that no one nation can dictate terms of engagement with any other, and today’s polices are a practice that is put in place with successive governments and initiatives, and to make changes to them nations will go thru economic, cultural and traditional changes, not just one nation deciding it’s going to let everyone else pay.  Trump to a degree is correct in the position that other nations are abusing the USA in many instances and USA has nothing to show for its commitments.  Yes, the country can take a better look at its military, economic and human resource planning and development with the rest of the world, and yes USA should focus on nation first and its security first.  Yes, that the rhetoric sounds good with sound bites on we are going to kick the shit out of some one, but do we really believe that the current government and the past governments are not engaged in steps to protect the county from terror and trade?

Everyone likes the idea of protection and safety.  Yes, building a barrier to protect against illegal immigration is a good idea, as USA has a great immigration policy that legally allows citizens from any country to migrate legally.  While Trump and just about all the candidates want to control illegal immigration and also protect against terrorists from infiltrating into the country, no other country really cares about how USA does it, nor will anyone pay for it.

One thing that Trump is right is how he can build something quick and cheap.  USA just like every other democracy has an enormous delay in any policy implementation, and huge budgets that balloon into gigantic budgets for any work to be done.  We probably need someone who has the political acumen and also the business savvy to do things quickly and cost effectively, and still maintain the positive diplomatic relationships with other nations.   One of the major issues for a leader is what punitive actions other nations will take if a country acts without consideration for others?  It is possible that they will also act with equal vigor.  The UN, WB, OPEC, G8, or any other organization that represent nations and trade practices, are all the work of nations looking for common ground.  If a country, however powerful it is starts to make decisions to impose its own will on others, then the world will go back to the days prior to the WW, and become more destructive.  This doesn’t preclude each nation from acting in its own self-interest.  So, building a wall to curb illegal immigration, checking the people entering into the nation to weed out terror, and economic cooperation that are mutual is all wonderful text book ideas, and if affordable to any nation should be implemented.

Let us suppose that Clinton and Trump go head to head in elections in November 2016 representing their parties, and one of them will occupy the white house in January 2017.  Today it certainly looks like they will be fighting each other for the job, unless something out of the ordinary happens.  This election season has been out of the ordinary just looking at Rump as a leader of the Republican bunch.

The electorate is divided as in every prior election; democrats and republicans with their party affiliation, and the independents as swing voters who will probably sway the elections.  As with successive elections, this election is also more polarized than the previous one, and party affiliation is undeniable.  As amazing as Trump’s early primary performance, the general elections will present a divided electorate that doesn’t sway from party affiliation, and only the independents matter, and more over who will get the voters out to the polling booth to cast their ballot?

If we look at President Obama and his reelection, the country’s working class and minorities had no issues with him.  He was reelected.  While Trump has his rhetoric and certainly his lifelong business back ground, the conventional wisdom of the voter’s needs prevails in democracies.  The USA is a reflection of a huge minority population and a large immigrant population.

If all the black, Hispanic, Chinese, European, Asian, ME and Muslim, and all other minority communities that are a part of the US fabric vote with democratic candidate, then it is a difficult election for anyone to go against these vote banks.  Minorities also care about their issues and their voting rights, and certainly will be more energized to get out and cast their vote.  If the entire community gets offended, especially by opposing party in a general election, the voters will be more motivated to get out and cast their vote.  That is all that is needed by Hillary Clinton is to get the democratic base out to vote.  People will always put their families, friends and communities first, and it takes a lot of effort to make them forget anything that is voiced against them as a community.  People always will put their family and friends first, and not confrontation and conflict.

Trump’s rhetoric sounds great on television, and to the listening audience, even to the listening minorities.  The reality is that even if he gets elected as the next president, his advisors will be doing the country’s work to align with the Republican Party’s agenda.  His electioneering will disappear as quickly as he gets elected.  The President has the executive powers to act on a slew of issues but when it comes to money and budgets, he certainly needs the congress to back him, and the congress seldom does anything that is not to its party’s advantage.  The president might be new to his job, but the congress is entrenched and housed to listen to the needs of anyone.  Even if Trump gets elected as president, he will not be able to execute to half the promises he is making, as the congress has set priorities that it will act on, and combine this with a party’s agenda and overall national and global agenda.  The age old practice of deliberation and debate will take precedent over rhetoric.

The world doesn’t work in isolation or in a vacuum, rather as a big enterprise constantly making adjustments and corrections.  It does take time to govern, communicate and adjust to the overall needs of the environment, but takes time due to the ever changing priorities and the vast differences, but it does act in time towards one common good.  The world depends on nations to work together, sharing brotherhood and common purpose, and opportunity for all.  However powerful, no single country can work and be in isolation and even if it wanted to it doesn’t succeed.

This entire election process has defied conventional and political wisdom.  The wisdom of the collective population has not been put to test yet, which is always focused on the society and its needs.  The United States has always been a great democracy and a great enterprise, and always had its share of hiccups that are integral to principals of a democracy.  The nation is also the most diverse in its representative population, which continues to become more and more diverse.

There is no doubt that the country will choose its next president who will represent its best interests for the next 4 years, probably for next 8 years.  This election although higher in rhetoric, is no different than any other, and also in keeping with the times.   The voices of concern should also entice people to get out and exercise their right to vote, and if the democratic party with its larger profile with minorities, immigrants, workers and unions, and people who look for the government to be proactive in managing the country, and the generations that have already paid their dues, young and old all of them together can influence the selection of the next president.  All of them care about their own future, but also have the respect for their fellow citizens and the global brotherhood.  The beauty of the election is that it is definitive and is in line with the people’s choice.

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