America’s ‘Character’

The long and exceptionally complicated process of selecting the candidates of the two American parties – Democratic and Republican – for the presidency of the U.S. starts in the state of Iowa this coming Monday. This is an unpredictable course in any event but even more so now, when the candidates are neither activists nor do they cause the same enthusiasm as Barack Obama. On the contrary, nobody can rule out the prospect of putting entrepreneur Donald Trump, electoral candidate for the Republican Party, in the White House anymore. With polls constantly showing him leading in popularity, the possibility of his election cannot be underestimated.

The following talk is circulating amongst people hanging out in Washington and New York, in a half joking, half serious manner: “If Trump is elected, I’m leaving the country.” But the issue for the Republican Party is that its leadership does not even trust Trump’s main opponent – Ted Cruz – whom they also consider anti-Semitic. Many cannot forget the calculated way in which he did politics in Congress and fear that, if he is elected, we will not work with them from inside the White House either. At the same time, the rest of the Republican candidates blame each other in negative advertising that costs millions of dollars, but no one has yet managed to emerge as a counterbalance to the likes of Trump and Cruz. Attacks against those with weak performances in polls and debates are particularly prevalent, like those conducted by Jeb Bush toward Marco Rubio, which are estimated to weaken the chances of the latter, who momentarily appeared as though he could emerge as a serious presidential contender.

Equally, many are concerned with the choices in the opposite camp, since the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders, belongs to the so-called “mainstream.” Sanders’ candidacy is a serious threat to the favorite, Hillary Clinton. The latter’s long trail in the political arena has eroded her image and, regardless of the discreet support by President Obama, the Democratic candidates do not appear to favor her. “They do not like her,” an American journalist said in a restaurant in Manhattan on Sunday. Of course, it’s not popularity but internal party elections that will determine the result. But one thing is certain: the fact that Mrs. Clinton’s main opponent is highlighting her relationship with Wall Street banks – and the $600,000 she received in one year from Goldman Sachs for her talks – is not working in her favor.

Seeing a gap in the presidential candidate market, Bloomberg News founder Michael Bloomberg is considering taking part in the elections as an independent candidate. According to the New York Times, he is concerned with Trump’s dominance in the Republican camp, but also by the rise of Bernie Sanders, who threatens Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. But Bloomberg is not just another billionaire who wants to be president like Sanders rushed to classify him. He has been tried and tested as a mayor of New York and, even though he is an ex-Republican, he has won the trust of many Democrats with his progressive views on social issues. The newspaper reports that a decision will be made by March. Depending on the results of both parties at the elections in Iowa and New Hampshire, Bloomberg might run in these elections as an independent candidate.

An independent candidate has never won the presidential election before, yet if the choice lies between Cruz or Trump and Sanders, he is then willing to spend a billion dollars to convince Americans to vote for him, as a technocrat. It has been difficult, with so many powerful personalities already in the presidential race, but the battle for the character of the next American government is becoming even more unpredictable.

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