The US Presidential Election: The Scene is Hotting up
The US elections are followed by almost 80% of the world's population. This is because the US is the mightiest power on this globe with a reach that is worldwide. No other nation can match the USA, be it China or Russia.The earlier colonial powers France and England are riding piggy back on America, so America is presently the greatest power on this globe.Obviously the world is concerned as to who leads the USA as the US president is the one single factor that cannot be ignored by any nation.
The Americans seem to be disenchanted with the leadership of Obama, the present president. Many blame him for a dip in American prestige around the globe. One good thing about the American election is that a president can get only 2, four year terms in office and after that he goes into retirement. This amendment was brought in after the end of World War II, which saw President Roosevelt getting elected for 4 terms. One wonders why we in India cannot have a similar restriction on the office of the Indian chief executive, the prime minister.
The US election process is long and tedious and lasts almost a year.To begin with the two main contending parties the Republicans and the Democrats have to select their nominee for the post of President. This is done by a party electoral process for each state of the Union. This process of electing the candidate who will be the nominee for the post of president lasts almost 9-10 months. Elections are held in all the states and the man who wins the maximum electoral votes wins the party nomination.
The Democratic party led by President Barack Obama has been in power for 8 years and now its time to say bye to Obama. There are two main candidates in the fray namely Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Just a few weeks back Bernie was trailing Hillary by over 50 points, but there is a dramatic reversal. Bernie has bridged the gap and is now neck and neck with Hillary.
The first state to go for polls is Iowa. The results for the Democrats have been a dead heat with Hillary winning 50.3% of the vote and Bernie 49.5%.Though Hillary has claimed victory, she can't feel very comfortable. This is because Bernie has almost caught up with her and may very well go ahead of her as other states vote.
The choice in the Democratic Party is just between Hillary and Bernie Sanders, but in the Republican party there are many contenders. For the last many weeks the man leading the pack was Donald Trump. His campaign seemed to be gathering steam as he established a lead of over 25 points over his nearest rival Ted Cruze.
Trump launched a campaign that had the theme that he wished to restore American prestige, eroded during the years Obama was in office. He also launched virulent attacks on Muslims and made the outrageous suggestion that Muslims be banned from entering the USA. He also proposed to racially profile Muslims in America, as was done by Roosevelt during the war years. At that time all Japanese who were residents of the USA were arrested and interred in camps.
Donald Trump seemed to be riding high and the press and the establishment expected Donald to win the Iowa primary. The results have however come as a shock and the winner is Ted Cruze who has polled 28% of the vote to 24% for Donald Trump. This is a surprise and shows that what is apparent is not real. Probably Donald Trump miscalculated. Worse the third candidate is just a point behind Trump with 23% of the vote. This in real terms shows a fractured mandate and one wonders whether this will be the theme of the Republican Party election.
One must point out that these are early days and there are still nearly 50+ states that have to vote, with big states like Texas and California coming up later. One cannot say that the Iowa primaries are a decisive factor. Donald trump may still pull his chestnuts out of the fire and come back with all guns blazing in teh subsequent primaries in the other states. One point that has been made is that small time candidates like Jeb Bush stand nowhere and many have scratched from the race.
The battle in the Repulican party, often called the Grand old Party is really between Trump and Cruze, who is much younger than Trump. But it would be a fallacy to write off Trump, for the simple reason that he does have sizeable support. Many Americans identify with his views and one cannot say that Cruz has won. It is a long hard road ahead.
As things stand who ever gets the republican nomination will go on to win the election. This victory will be more prouncenced in case Hillary wins the Democratic nomination. To my mind Hillary represents the status quo and the American public wants change. If Bernie gets the nomination the fight would be more even, but again the Republican charge will be difficult to blunt.
As far as the Republican nomination is concerned it looks a toss-up between Trump and Cruze. All the pollsters had predicted a Trump victory, but it did not happen in Iowa. The election season in America is the toast not only of America, but the world. It is the greatest election and Indians could learn from it. Here we are dominated by caste and that makes our democracy very fragile. One hopes in the years to come we can have a similar election, where caste is not a factor at all.
As far as my gut feeling goes, there is a good chance that Trump will forge ahead, but again one can't be sure.
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