Election 2016 - The Whole World Is Watching

Election 2016 - The Whole World Is Watching

As I decide whether to bring along my trusty Sorels to ward off frozen feet syndrome FFS, as forecasts are now predicting anywhere between 3-8 inches of snow in Manchester on Tuesday Primary Day, I can't help but reflect on what has happened in Iowa and how that is seen and absorbed by our friends and enemies around the world.

Since I often appear as a U.S. political commentator on foreign TV and Radio, I am asked some very poignant questions. And recently I've been detecting more than a bit of nervousness and anxiety in the voices of these hosts and presenters.

Interestingly, after the Iowa results I was asked on a well known Scottish TV News Show a rather hopeful question...if I thought it was "Advantage Cruz"?

The level of consternation in "Robbie Burns Country" over "The Donald" and his behavior has been considerable.

You see, there had been several instances relating to Trump's golf ventures - one example, the ruling Golf officials decided not to allow the play of the 2020 British Open at Trump's Turnberry in Ayrshire, southwest Scotland, to avoid dealing with him at all.

Then there was the wind farm dust up in 2012 with then First Minister Alex Salmond, the head of the Scottish government.

And very recently when the Brits got wind of a possible Trump as "POTUS" role in their future, hundreds of thousands of Britons signed a petition calling for a debate by Members of Parliament - in Westminster Hall - on whether Trump should to be banned from the U.K. for many of the so-called hateful comments he had been making.

After lots of scathing and impassioned dialogue from all directions it did not reach a vote in Parliament - just an airing of some nasty laundry.

It seems Prime Minister David Cameron decided not to support the banning, choosing U.S.- U.K. pragmatism over personal feelings...Who knows? Trump could be the next president!

Cameron labelled Trump's comments "stupid and wrong" but said he did not support a ban, saying that Trump would "unite us all against him" if he visited the U.K.

In France where nuance and delicacy of language is as important as the wine you drink with your cassoulet, I was speaking to a French journalist friend of mine about the outcome of the Iowa Caucuses.

After few tortured minutes of explaining the now famous "coin toss" we got to "Le Donald".

He said in English and I quote - "You know, French journalists don't believe in him. He is more a storyteller than a political leader."

Now that has to be the most exquisitely nuanced way of calling someone a "Blow Hard" "Garbage Mouth" - thanks Dad from Queens - or as other Americans might say "amazing Bull S**t artist" I have ever heard.

During this primary election battle via Twitter "The Commander-in-Chief from Queens" has accused Senator Ted Cruz of fraud and is demanding an Iowa Do-Over, in Schoolyard parlance, or on the links a "Mulligan".

Who from outside our borders can take any of this seriously?

Who from within our borders is taking any of this "Alice Through The Looking Glass" election cycle seriously?

OK, elections in many foreign countries, if held at all, can be infested with fraud, abuse, torture and often times murder.

But here in the USA we're supposed to be different. We have a Constitution and we take pride in spreading our democratic freedoms and way of life to those "less fortunate" - whether they like it or Not!

So what's with the "Three Ring Circus"?

Do our media organizations play into the sham and razzmatazz?

Do they relish and encourage it?

Do we really need another Town Hall Debate?

Are we, here in Washington to close to the fire to feel the flames?

Do any of the candidates actually care about the world out there?

Well, there are a few things we have already learned this election cycle. One is that Americans have been voting for "change" for the last several presidential elections and they clearly have not gotten what they had hoped for.

At this point they are mad, fed up and simply not going to sit back and take it any more - for different reasons the rise of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is evidence of this just from different sides of the political divide.

Although Iowa was the first test of whether any voter was actually motivated enough to leave their home and go out to support their candidate, it is rarely the predictor of the ultimate winner.

Both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries play a unique role in the American political system. They are the first measure of the candidates where true retail politics rules the day!

Iowa and New Hampshire are "whiter" than most of America - fewer minorities in either state. Iowa is very conservative and voters want a candidate who shares their values. In New Hampshire the voters are a bit more pragmatic - they want to pick a winner!

In both of the first two contests, personal politics and "pressing the flesh" matter!

These voters expect to see the candidates in intimate settings - they expect to see the candidate up close and personal and not just at big rallies.

These two states are also the first test of the candidate's "ground organization" to get their voters out to the polls.

On this measure it was clear that on the Democratic side both Hillary and Bernie have professional organizations ready and able to Get Out The Vote!

On the Republican side, the Cruz Organization's GOTV effort met the test as did Team Rubio.

Real question here is the Trump Organization and its ground game...we still don't know if it is real and ready to met the test of this long and tough presidential election campaign?

In most elections the voters try to figure out what went wrong the last time and how they can make a better choice and fix it.

Many who voted for President Barack Obama believed that he symbolized change in so many different ways.

For many Americans it meant we had "turned the page" on racial intolerance and we were moving on to new chapter.

President Obama promised among many things that he would "change" Washington - a promise many have made before him.

Unfortunately when President Obama arrived in Washington to begin to govern he was faced with the reality that the representatives the American people sent to Washington mirror the deep divide among its people.

Not unlike Jimmy Carter, President Obama had very little Washington experience - and changing the bureaucracy of the U.S. Government is like trying to turn a battleship on a dime!

It takes an "insider" with experience who knows how it works - to actually make something happen in Washington.

So on this point, the Democrats have the edge. Both Hillary and Bernie are old Washington hands. Bernie in some ways more than Hillary - has been in the Congress for many years and knows how to work with friends and foes to get things done.

Another potential edge to be considered is that the "millennial generation" has surpassed the "baby boomers" in pure size. Although they have not been as reliable a voting block as the seniors or boomers in last go around, their involvement in this electoral process is part of the reason that Bernie Sanders is doing so well.

Bernie has transferred his generation's sense of revolution and promise into something this younger generation finds affirmative, reaffirming and extremely appealing.

On the Republicans side, there is no one with significant Washington experience among the top contenders. Cruz and Rubio are both first term senators and Trump has none - notwithstanding his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a stone's throw from The White House.

It also appears that the voters want an outsider - someone who they think will go to Washington on their behalf and "bang some heads together" to make things happen.

So if this is what they want then Trump even more than Cruz may make some sense.

The problem of course is America's president is not just here to solve our domestic woes.

There are ills that extend beyond our borders.

The voters will very soon start to focus on the role national security plays in this election.

So until some other country is willing to "stand up and deliver" America will remain the leader of the "Free World".

The U.S. President must play many roles: Chief Diplomat, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Trade Promoter, Domestic Policy Chief, Economic Strategist, Democratic or Republican Party Head and always Healer-in-Chief in times of tragedy.

Who of the remaining candidates still standing is up to this challenge?

Which candidate can then be ready on January 20, 2017 to sit down and take charge, all alone behind that very imposing Oval Office desk created from the wood salvaged from the HMS Resolute - a gift from Queen Victoria in 1879?

Which candidate will be "camera-ready" on that Inauguration Day to deal with an assortment of world characters and issues including ISIL, Al Qaeda, Putin, Assad, Kim Jong-Un, Brothers Castro, al-Sisi, Rouhani, Al-Bashir, Mugabe, Al Saud, Xi, Boko Haram, Zika, HIV-AIDS, the Borderless Global Economy, Global Warming, and the beat goes on!

So if the voters want an "old hand" who knows the ropes, then it will be Hillary or Bernie.

Hillary and Bernie's view of foreign policy would be very different - Hillary is likely to be the Obama Doctrine continued and Bernie would be much more cautious about international ties and intervention.

Trump will clearly be a "my way or the highway" guy - he gets his way or he will not play.

Are you listening Vladimir?

Cruz seems to want to take a neocon approach to international affairs - "sands glowing in the dark" - and Rubio a more studied and pragmatic view on international affairs.

As Rubio moves with some buoyancy into the next round, he is already threatening the status quo and the arrows are being aimed.

This possible fresh face for a new generation of Republicans seems a lot like Barack Obama - just eight years ago including a million dollar smile!

So once again it is really up to the American voter to take these next ten months to decide what they want in their next leader and who they want to represent America on the World stage.

At the moment it seems they are really just beginning to focus ... Which is probably good news for all of us since the whole world is watching.


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