Americans alive today have never seen an election like this before. Here's why: for the first time in four decades one of the parties does not know who will be the nominee, one of the nominees will be a woman, and the other a mogul who never had never worked for the government in any capacity in his life, and one of the major competitors (right now) is a self-declared socialist. None of this has happened in the memory of those Americans now alive.
Some of the ideas these candidates have for a better America? Build a wall on the border of Mexico, free college for everyone, bomb ISIS until infinity comes, less taxes and more spending. And I ask: why not free cake and a pony too? Come November I suspect Americans will go to the polls to vote in what will be the least worst and not the best hope for America. Many are asking if it is time for the birth of a third party, which is a rarity in American history.
Hillary Clinton is seen by many Democrats as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and by Republicans as a crooked liar (do not forget the private email server episode and Benghazi). But there's little question now that Hillary Clinton will be the FIRST American women nominee to become a US President. However there is a love-hate within the Democratic party for her, and will not be an easy transition from Obama to Clinton (except perhaps at the State Department)... but much easier than the change to any Republican. And did you think Bush "43" was pro-intervention? Hillary Clinton is woman that many think will be a war hawk as commander-in-chief, at least compared to the past eight years.
Bernie Sanders is seen by Republicans as Karl Marx, and by Democrats as a Liberal on steroids. His campaign is already over and he knows it, but the dream continues. Is he waiting on Clinton's indictment? Things could open up for him if that is the case (the Democrats do not meet until the end of July in Philadelphia). So, maybe yes. There's also the other theory - he knows his campaign is over, but he uses the debates to cultivate his ideas, i. e. campaign finance, Wall Street reform, etc. even further on primetime. Sanders ideas are popular in a lefty Europe, but they will hardly pass in the U.S. Free college is an idea we all like. But he needs to explain how he is going to finance millions of students at 4140 public universities/colleges. Sanders speaks about a taxes on Wall Street transactions to fund this idea and all this sounds great to the young generations who know little about civics (or about paying taxes). But at the end of the day the president can't just tax Wall Street transactions to fund schools. Congress would have to approve this, and they would never do it.
Donald Trump is the phenomenon of these American elections. In fact, no one ever thought this charlatan, the way many Republicans and Democrats see it, has come so far. But he has arrived. He has a logo that appeals to Americans weary of a dysfunctional America, Make America Great Again. He sold this idea well in every pit stop. He talked about how he will get a GREAT deal with the rest of the world, but has to explain HOW he is going to make those deals happen. Republicans remind me of Greeks trying to balance the budget: they have their hands on their heads and don't know what the **** to do with their top candidate. Others have said that he is a "genuine fraud," and that is an apt description. He connects with people in a genuine way that is clearly a fraud. This is kind of like professional wrestling, though with professional wrestling, the joke and the fake seriousness is shared with the audience. With Donald Trump, the joke is on the voters, on America, and in a way, on the world.
Trump is the most popular Republican in this race, but we all know he is not president material (it is unclear if he knows this too). Recently one of his former campaign staffers resigned and she said that Trump got in the race to become a protest candidate and things got out of hand, and now he doesn't know what to do. On top of that he is misogynist to women and anti-Hispanics. I wonder what would happen if all the Hispanics resign from working at the Trump Hotels. All this (plus so, so much more) would destroy any normal candidate, but this is not a normal candidate, and this is not a normal year in American politics. But at this stage of the game, he is likely to be the Republican nominee. If America is important to the world, then this is a phenomenon the world needs to pay attention to.
Of the other two Republican candidates, Ted Cruz has the most similar candidate profile to Barack Obama, when he ran for president. Cruz is 43 years old (Trump is 69, Clinton is 67 and Sanders is 74). He has always worked for the government, and he feels he is now ready to lead the US in the world. Despite (or perhaps because of) the credentials, he can't pass the charismatic Trump. One day I heard that a voter with no party say: Ted Cruz is The Other Candidate With The Charisma Of A House Plant. Cruz is seen as a regional candidate and doesn't connect well with voters. He doesn't have the appeal that Obama (or Trump) has with folks.
The other Republican in the race, John Kasich is a candidate with no game, but it is worth a mention. A year ago, if we had Democrats choose the best of the trio - Trump, Cruz, or Kasich, I bet they would have said they preferred Cruz or Trump because Kasich had the most conservative ideas, and he sounded crazy to Democrats' ears. But today, Kasich, who at the time was the black sheep, is to Democrats and many Republicans the 'cool kid' of the block and the most normal of the Republican candidates.
America will likely have Clinton vs. Trump. The best thing that will hopefully come out of this circus of a presidential race is one of the great characteristics of America and Americans: the ability to react and transform. So, if someone has better ideas, if a third party is in the works, now it is the time to it may emerge. We, Americans and foreigners, contributing to the social fabric of this nation and taxpayers, need ONE candidate that UNITES the country and develops an agenda that serves their citizens and not their personal interests. Will this band of candidates do it? Maybe or maybe not, but I for one hope it will get us in that direction, so that the people and their leaders are in alignment again.
NOTE: I was asked by Sabado magazine, Portuguese domestic press, to write an article about how America was living the U.S. Presidential election.
Originally posted on Sabado