AMERICA is heading towards the most controversial Presidential Election in modern times – and does not know what to do about it.
Having spent three weeks in the United States talking to taxi drivers, hotel and business people, I concluded that I am becoming addicted to politics and electioneering as I could not help asking people what they thought about their forthcoming election. The real answer was not much!
In New Orleans and Louisiana, I got the surprising reply on more than one occasion “what election – did not know we were having one”. The majority answer was that they are not happy with either of the two main candidates – Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, many saying ‘neither of the above’ when pressed. It is true that there are other candidates on the ballot paper but they have no funds, no voice and, therefore, no chance.
The consensus amongst the American public is, like us here in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, voters are tired of their existing politicians – just as David Cameron and his team discovered on June 23.
The USA may be a rich country, but there are many poor Americans who do not appear to be represented properly by either of the main parties. Barack Obama has tried to correct this, but his hands have been tied by Congress and the Senate.
The American people want change, but do not see it coming with either Clinton or Trump, and have reservations about both. It seems that many Americans, to my amazement, do not like Hillary as they say she tells lies, though I suspect that these people do not like the Clintons because they have made their money from speaking engagements just like our Tony Blair.
Donald Trump could bring change, but many fear that it would be uncontrolled change which could not be moderated by Congress or the Senate.
Trump is admired by many for his success as a businessman – they believe that he could shake up America and rejuvenate the failing Washington scene. He might be the man to get a better deal for the poor and put a stop to the growing problem of civil rights and unrest. However many are reluctant to give him the chance as it could go very wrong, and they do not want his finger on the nuclear button.
Trump has gone for the popular issue of Mexican immigration and taken an unconventional and unacceptable view of women in society all the time acting like a wild west snake oil salesman. At the same time Hillary has played a strategic hand defending husband Bill’s position with women but she has got nowhere as she appears to be defending the indefensible.
Now Trump has raised the stakes with a desperate attack on the Clintons which has emphasised his wild character. These personal attacks and their responses are something to witness. Clinton has kept her cool, but is still capable of dishing the dirt and there is plenty of it coming from Donald Trump.
For some American electors, this is all good sport and just what they are looking for which makes the outcome so unpredictable – the wild warlord versus the tarnished lady.
At the present time, Hillary Clinton looks to be on course to win. Importantly, her growing poll lead is reflected in the so-called swing states which a candidate must win to become President. However polls have been wrong before, as we found out at our recent referendum.
From my straw poll from New Orleans to New York, via Memphis, it looks as though Hillary Clinton should win but there is no certainty as the electors looking for real change could turn out for Donald Trump in sufficient numbers to put him in the White House.
In summary America has a real dilemma and many people will be unhappy whoever wins.
Elizabeth Peacock was Conservative MP for Batley & Spen from 1983-97.