American Politics Explained

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Words || Charbel Zada

Every four years, America holds the US presidential race. It is an interesting phenomenon and this year is proving to be no different. For those who confused by US politics (who can blame you?), it can appear to be a perplexing process.

In a nutshell, the US presidential race is a popularity contest of biblical proportions between the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republican Party is Right wing; essentially they are an extreme group of highly religious, gun toting individuals whose party name is now synonymous with American conservatism.

Its historical rival, the Democratic Party, is now widely considered to be Left wing with strong roots in modern liberalism. At the time of this writing, the major candidates from the Democratic Party are Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Opposing them are members of the Republican Party; Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

Donald Trump represents the worst of America. With no political background, his rise in the political field is a perfect example of money doing the talking. Offering no real and tangible policies, he panders to the lowest common denominator shouting policies such as building an actual physical wall to keep people from Mexico from entering America as well as deporting all Muslims.

His dangerous rhetoric has earned him an apt comparison to Adolf Hitler, and for good reasons. Just like Hitler, Trump’s xenophobia, racism, sexism and showmanship is winning him votes, especially across White America. Just like Hitler, Trump’s rise is indicative of wider spread problem in the nation. Just like Hitler, he’s doomed to fail, but he’s also doomed to destroy a lot of things on the way down. Just due to his rhetoric, there’s been a rise in racism, sexism and most importantly Islamophobia have increased. A person who brings out the worst in his people is not worthy of being a leader.

If Donald Trump was all style and no substance, his Republican peer and competitor, Ted Cruz, is the opposite: no style and some substance. Unlike Trump, he offers policies, most of which are actually quite terrifying. His policies would see a wall erected to keep people from Mexico coming in (Republicans are fond of walls to keep people out), women’s reproductive rights be thrown back to the stone ages and the right to bear arms strengthened. Unfortunately for him, his appeal to the voters, especially young voters, is waning. Next to the opulent and very extravagant and loud Donald Trump who appeals to the worst in people, the awkward and bumbling politician is failing to strike a chord with voters in the same way that Trump unfortunately is.

A third Republican competitor is Ben Carson. Ben Carson is essentially a carbon copy of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump who hasn’t quite reached the same public level as them. His policies mirror Cruz’s policies but as is the norm with most republicans, his views have alienated most young voters. Furthermore, he’s black and in America where issues such as racism have become a focal point, he is unlikely to attain the Republican nomination especially against the behemoth that is the Donald Trump machine. The two even lesser known, less radical Republican candidates, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, share the same policies with the other Republican candidates with a few marked differences. Kasich himself is highly critical of Trump’s plan to build a wall, arguing the Republican party needs to redefine themselves as more caring. He’s one of the very few Republicans to not advocate repealing Obama care, however his stance on women’s reproductive rights remains conservative. Rubio had the same view against deporting immigrants, however is a typical Republican, promising to undo changes done to their rights to bear arms and undo Planned Parenthood.

Opposing the Republican side are democrats Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. Bernie Sanders is widely considered the next Barack Obama. His appeal to the voters can be summed up in two words: common sense. His policies are not extreme but rather borne out of a pragmatic approach to current problems. His policies would see better immigration reforms happen, women’s reproductive rights protected, a concrete plan designed at curbing gun violence (something that unfortunately happens on a daily basis in America) be implemented and issues such as racism and sexism addressed. He is widely viewed as the “little guy” and unlike other candidates, does not get funding from corporations and has managed to successfully voice his candidacy through the donations of his supporters. His candidacy has often been referred to as the “grassroots movement”, so if Donald Trump represents the worst of America, Sanders, by all logic, represents the best.

Bernie Sanders faces stiff competition from his peer and competitor, Hilary Clinton. Clinton and Sanders have almost similar policies with a few marked differences. Clinton has drawn criticism for her tendency to swap positions. This is exemplified in the Trans Pacific Partnership deal; she was publicly in support of the deal, but after her candidacy was announced, she opposed the deal. There is an argument being made, she’s switched in order to appease corporations that are funding her candidacy, which begs the question: Is she simply saying whatever she needs to say safeguard the endorsements from these corporations and to be elected?

As this article is being written, Donald Trump leads the republican nomination for the US presidency and Hilary Clinton has just defeated Bernie Sanders in South Carolina in the polls. However, it is worth noting there’s more to US politics than simply voting for a President. Barack Obama made plenty of promises, most of which he unable to fulfill and for which he got severely blamed for, but there is another player in this game: Congress. Congress is now primarily Republican, and have consistently blocked Obama’s policies and then have turned around and blamed Obama for being unable to fulfill his promises. If either Sanders or Clinton win the presidency, they face an uphill battle. If Republicans win the presidency, a lot of damage could ensue.