The U.S. presidential election is experiencing a sickening case of Islamophobia among some Republican candidates, in violation of the foundations upon which American society was built. In the past few weeks, the Republican candidate who is leading in the polls, Donald Trump, demanded a special record of all Muslims in the United States, including American Muslim citizens. Then, he demanded that no Muslims be allowed to enter the United States. Remember what America did to its citizens of Japanese origin when they put them under house arrest in military camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II? Even the other Republican candidates have strongly criticized this claim, which reeks of hateful racism against Muslims.
How has the U.S. presidential election evolved to the point at which we now see people of such extremism, like Trump, take the lead of a party?
Over the past several decades, the Republican Party has gradually turned ultraconservative. It has narrowly boxed itself in, in terms of its inability to win over a large segment of voters, including women, Americans of Hispanic descent (who now make up 17 percent of the population), Americans of African descent (who now make up 13 percent of the population), and Jews (who do not just vote based on a candidate’s support of Israel, but on multiple social and economic issues, and most of them are traditional supporters of the Democratic Party by 70-80 percent). This means the party increasingly has become a party of white men, who account for a gradually decreasing portion of the population.
After the recent emergence of the tea party, a party that has a conservative orientation and competes from inside the Republican Party to win conservative votes, the process of directing the Republican Party to the extreme right has accelerated. Now, its presidential candidate is put in a situation where he has to take extreme positions in order to win the party nomination. However, extreme positions will work against him in the general election because the majority of American society is concerned with domestic issues. Of course, congressional elections differ because they depend on other factors, including geographical and demographic divisions. This analysis is limited to the presidential election, where the Republican candidate has gotten into a situation that will make it difficult to achieve an easy win, unless special circumstances arise, such as the security threat the United States felt after the events on Sept. 11. It should be noted here that the Islamic State does not represent a significant security threat, even after the recent terrorist incident, which claimed the lives of 14 people in California. President Obama has repeatedly stated this point.
Another important factor, which has evolved over the past several decades, is the increasingly expensive U.S. presidential election. A candidate requires over $1.5 billion to compete in the election — a fictional amount. The ability of a candidate and his party to collect such funds, and not only his qualification for leadership for example, has a significant impact on the winner.
As for the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of Americans, across the political spectrum, do not want an on-the-ground military intervention after the war in Iraq. Therefore, little will differ in the policy of Obama’s successor from the policy of the current administration concerning Syria or the war on the Islamic State group, for example, regardless of who wins the election.
To recap, with the exception of the important event in the coming year, whoever wins the Republican nomination for the presidential election will not be able to win over the majority of the American people (there, the majority is determined by only a few percentage points, not the 99-percent majority we are used to in our region). If we add this to Hillary Clinton’s enormous financial and organizational ability and the assistance of her husband, as well as the lack of an effective competitor within the Democratic Party, the next U.S. president will be Hillary Clinton.