The New York primaries have decided who will run for the White House — almost for certain on the Democratic side and to a certain extent, but not completely, on the Republican side. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emerged victorious and realized Frank Sinatra’s formidable “New York, New York” dream: “I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep / And find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap / If I can make it there then I’ll make it anywhere.” The Big Apple granted them their dreams.
Clinton finally emerged with a much-needed win after a series of defeats at the hands of Bernie Sanders, the principled candidate who has won over many young people with his grand dreams — dreams that the political atmosphere in the U.S. simply will not permit. Trump has steadied a campaign that had been derailed by a series of inappropriate remarks. The nomination is now within his reach. The Republican Party, which he accuses of wanting to rob him of the nomination by means of a contested convention and which is using tactics not seen in a long time, is going to find it very difficult to stop him. The two populist candidates, Trump and Sanders, have tapped into the well of disillusionment and anger of many people who have been left behind.
These are interesting but angry times in the U.S. According to the polls, the majority of people do not believe Trump is qualified to lead the country. The two candidates most likely to win the nominations of their respective parties have not yet convinced the electorate that they are the man or woman for the job — 68 percent cannot imagine voting for Trump and 58 percent dislike Clinton. This polarization, which has plagued Barack Obama’s presidency, drives the campaign, something that does not bode well for a political system that has come to a halt.
The obscure rules of the primaries mean that fewer than 10 million voters decide who will be the Republican and Democratic candidates. For this reason, the hopefuls focus all of their attention on the most die-hard activists, without having to worry about the 40 percent of the population who declare themselves as “independents,” or the 60 percent of people who believe there should be a third party. Much to the annoyance of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, who now has no chance of winning the nomination, remains in the race. However, the presence of the 74-year-old Democratic socialist senator serves a very important purpose. More than either Clinton or Trump, it is he who has so enthused young people who are possibly voting for the first time — not least owing to his promises to scrap college tuition fees. Sanders has made the debate on wealth and inequality central to his campaign, often talking about the scourge of extreme poverty as well as the squeezing of the middle class. He believes that free trade and globalization are to blame, something that is also a central pillar of the Trump campaign.
Clinton’s path to the White House is not an easy one. She is the most prepared candidate, but she is also seen by many as a stale option. The public has an image of her as a woman who lacks empathy toward ordinary people, whose honesty is questionable, and who is a Wall Street mercenary. However, she does have the backing of a broad demographic coalition comprising African-Americans, Hispanics and women, something that Donald Trump lacks. Trump is sure to tone down his rhetoric in an attempt to make peace with his party and gain the nomination, but beyond that, he faces a very tough challenge: Only 15 percent of the population can picture him in the White House.