Saturday, July 25, 2015

Arthur Answers, Part 4: Candidate questions

I got several questions about candidates running for US President in the 2016 US elections, so I thought I’d group them together. The questions were asked earlier this month, and my answers are based on the current situation.

First up, Roger asked a question on Facebook that was endorsed by Andy:

“The Donald's comments about Mexicans, along with being rejected by Comcast/NBCUnivision and Macy's, for two, has helped him in the polls. Are you SURE he can't win the GOP nomination?”

The short answer is yes, no, and maybe. Next? Seriously, Trump’s biggest enemy is himself, not because of what he says, or even how he says it, but because he gets bored. I’m not convinced he’ll go the distance because of that, or that he won’t decide to launch an independent bid.

But that’s about why Trump might choose to not get the Republican nomination. What’s certain is that the Republican establishment doesn’t want him as their party’s candidate, and neither do the oligarchs and plutocrats who bankroll the USA’s rightwing politics (they want Scott “Koch” Walker). So, the power and money for the party are against Trump, which is why he may yet be prevented from getting the nomination.

On the other hand, Trump in typical of the Republican Party’s base—the people who are certain to vote in primaries or turn up to caucuses. They’re xenophobic, often racist, and dead set against immigration reform (the teabaggers threatened to mount a primary challenge to their former darling, Marco Rubio, because of his limited support for immigration reform, but Rubio chose not to run for re-election to the US Senate). So, while Trump sounds batshit crazy to everyday Americans, what he says is music to the ears of the Republican base. That suggests he could win the nomination, despite the opposition of the bigwigs and mega-rich.

Trump’s biggest challenge could be that even Republicans are turning on their party. A new study by Pew Research found: “Positive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%.” This spells trouble for the more extreme Republicans if that decline is related to, as the same survey found, the fact that Americans in general see the Republican Party as more extreme and least likely to govern in “a more honest ethical way”.

So: Yes, I’m sure he won’t get the nomination because the party’s establishment and money men don’t want him, and because the party is losing the passionate support of it’s own partisans. No, I’m not sure he won’t because he is in lock-step with the Republicans most likely to participate in the selection process. Maybe, because that base may not be enough to overcome the other obstacles Trump faces.

Andy asked:

“In your opinion, Arthur, is Hillary Rodham Clinton the best qualified candidate for POTUS in all of the United States of America, or is there something about the selection process that precludes better qualified candidates from running for office?”

Hillary Clinton is as qualified as any/every candidate for US President because the qualifications are VERY specific. Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
That’s it—the only qualifications for US President.

What Andy’s actually getting at are qualities, the whole list of things that we personally think are important in a US president. This may include experience, positions on issues, temperament, age, gender, or any number of other things. One’s perception of what qualities are important is entirely subjective, based on the things that matter to us personally, things like ideology, partisanship, issues one is passionate about, prejudices—any number of possibilities.

So, obviously Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president—and so are all the other candidates. However, I also think she has the right qualities to be president, too, and not all the other candidates do.

The question then becomes, does Hillary have the best qualities of anyone in the USA who might run for president? That’s something I can’t possibly know. However, I’m sure that, theoretically, there are probably Americans whose qualities would make them better presidents, but those theoretical candidates aren’t running (see also my answer about Bernie Sanders below).

There is one thing that DOES preclude candidates with the best-possible qualities for president from being viable candidates: Money—specifically, corporate money and money from the oligarchs plutocrats. Ordinary people who would make brilliant presidents don’t have even the remotest chance because they can’t possibly raise enough money to be competitive.

Roger Green asks:

“And in the same vein, can Bernie Sanders win the Democratic nomination? He's getting big crowds, and frankly, is more in line with the liberal wing of the party than HRC.”

Yes, Sanders CAN win the nomination—he’s just not very likely to do so. He’s been drawing record crowds, and Bernie’s favourability is now polling ahead of Hillary Clinton is the latest Gallup Poll. Clinton’s also viewed more negatively than positively in that poll, which sounds good for Bernie. Well, not quite.

52% of the Americans surveyed have never even heard of Sanders. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters—the people who will actually decide who wins the nomination—Hillary is viewed favourably by 74% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, while 39% view Bernie favourably. Clinton is viewed more favourably than Sanders by every single demographic, including Liberal Democrats, 81% of whom view her favourably, while only 53% of Liberal Democrats view him favourably.

This is only one poll, of course, though it’s also the most recent, so this may change. At the moment, this preference that Democrats have for Clinton over Sanders tends to reinforce what I’ve said several times, that Sanders’ main support is coming from Leftists who don’t usually participate in the Democratic Party’s selection process, and who often specifically reject the Democratic nominee because they’re not Left enough. Put another way, Hillary Clinton’s support is coming from within the party and Sanders support is coming from outside the party.

If Sanders keeps drawing large crowds and keeps raising money, then he could be a factor in the race. But even if all that happens, he faces an enormous uphill challenge unless he can get his supporters to participate in the Democratic Party’s selection process. At the moment, it would take an enormous influx of Leftist, but non-Democratic voters to overcome Hillary’s support among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters.

In the interest of transparency, I should point out that while I’m still neutral in the race for the Democratic nomination, on most issues I’m more aligned with Bernie Sanders than I am with Hillary Clinton. However, I want the next US President to be a Democrat, so I’ll support the party’s nominee—whoever that is.

So, to sum up, it’s possible that Sanders could win the nomination, but at the moment, it doesn’t seem very likely.

Thanks to Roger and Andy for the questions!

There’s still time to ask questions! Here’s how: First, you can leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are okay). You can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). And, for the first time, you can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page.


rogerogreen said...

Much more than BENGHAZI!, I worry about the email thing. She could - probably won't, but COULD - be indicated, I understand.

OH, I JUST THOUGHT OF ANOTHER QUESTION. If Hillary could NOT be the Democratic nominee, because of some legal problem, who would be? Who should be? Would it come out of the present collection? Or Clinton disciple Kirsten Gillibrand? Or would they exhume Al Gore from the crypt?

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Good question! So good, it gets its own post.