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2016: What to Watch For Part 01

The year 2016 has arrived and it has come with a bang. As we offer an ‘early-warning service,’ here are some things to watch for:

US Presidential election:

The campaign for the Democratic and Republican nominations for the office of President of the United States has been in full swing for many months … with many more months left to go. Since US President Barack Obama has been elected twice, and is constitutionally barred from running for a third term, he will be replaced by either the Republican or Democratic nominee who wins the November 2016 general election. The inauguration will be 20 January 2017.

Hillary Clinton, former first lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State, is the current front-runner for the Democratic Party. Husband, former President Bill Clinton, would dearly love to return to the White House as history first-ever ‘First Gentleman’ and is prepared to campaign hard on behalf of his wife. Mr. Clinton is a master campaigner. Hillary has many endorsements, universal name recognition, and lots of money to fund her campaign ($120 million the last count).

However, there are some big potholes on the way to the White House. Though Mrs. Clinton is no stranger to controversy, there are serious questions about her time as America’s Secretary of State, including her handling of the Benghazi situation leading up to the murder of the US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was based in a poorly secured villa. In addition, there was her use of a private email server, mixing personal and private emails, and missing crucial emails at the time of Steven’s murder.

Yet there are even more things plaguing her campaign. The FBI has begun investigating Mrs. Clinton’s use of private email as Secretary of State. Why was classified information found on her personal server, which is a possible violation of the US espionage laws? The agency also wants to explore whether public corruption laws where contravened when Clinton’s State Department work co-mingled with the Clinton Foundation business.

While Mrs. Clinton’s experience is given as an asset, actual accomplishments are not mentioned. In addition, Socialist Bernie Sanders has made some big strides by cutting into her once invincible lead. While social progressives, left-wingers, and left-leaning moderates, would welcome a ‘second coming of the Clintons’ to the White House, conservatives would strongly oppose a rerun.

On the Republican side, the front-runner is business mogul Donald Trump, who has be ahead in the polls for months among the large pack of Republican candidates. Though not a politician himself, the successful business man does not appear to be beholden to special interests. His call to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the United States resonated very well with many voters, who like a candidate to be straight-talking, rather than regurgitate the same politically correct line. Mr. Trump can be brash and impolite - listen to what he called journalist Meghan Kelly or fellow-candidate Carly Fiorina - but at this point it has not affected his front-runner status.

There are many other declared republican candidates, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Ohio governor John Kasich, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, it is a crowded field in a highly divisive atmosphere. Though the republicans are offering experienced present and former governors (a successful state governor has the most credible experience to be a successful president), it is the rise of the ‘non-politicians’ like Trump, Carson, and Fiorina, that has been so remarkable.

Republican voters perceive that their once conservative party is beginning to look like the left-wing Democrats. Tea Party conservatives have been unable to deliver on their promise of a balanced budget and limited government. The American electorate seems as unpredictable and distrustful as ever, even to credible experienced politicians.
What to Watch: Predicting the final winner in November will not be easy in this a volatile campaign. Expect mud-slinging between the candidates within a party, as well as the front-runners of both major parties. Of interest, the Trumps and Clintons, fellow New Yorkers, have been chummy in the past (Donald and Bill played golf together) but the guns are already out for each other.

NOTE: Australia will also have a federal election in 2016. More about this, plus other areas to watch, will be dealt with in Part 02.


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