By Josh Wilson
Citizens of America will not enter a polling booth for over a year but yet the Presidential election seems to be in full swing already. So what even is a primary? Are there any radical candidates? And is Kanye really running to be leader of the ‘free world’? Hopefully this radical guide to the US election will be able to clear things up a bit.
So what is a primary?
This is a process pretty alien to us Brits, but the recent frenzy around the Labour leadership election may make them a bit more relatable. Primaries (and in some states Caucuses) are complicated and done on a state-by-state and party-by-party basis. But are essentially the process that the Republican and Democratic Parties use to nominate their candidate that will go on to run the campaign for President. These will run from January to June 2016 before the election in November.
So who is running?
Currently there are 16 candidates for the Republican nomination and 5 for the Democrats (and an extra democrat who hasn’t decided yet). This is too many to go through, so I’ve picked the top 3 in the most recent CNN poll from each party.
Polls – The opening favourite, topping the polls back in June has substantially dropped in support to just 9% in the most recent CNN Poll.
Tag Line – #AllInForJeb
Another level of the Bush dynasty, the brother of George Bush Jn. and son of George Bush Sn. he carries the baggage of being part of one of the most notorious American political families. He is definitely right-wing and it’s hard to find something particularly radical about him, but he does speak Spanish and has championed the idea of increasing the legal routes for undocumented people to gain legal status in the US. He also has a lot of donors and therefore a lot of money to play with, which helps in the lengthy primary process.
Polls – Being down at 4% in July, Carson has shot up to 2nd place in the republican field on 19% in the most recent poll by CNN.
Tag Line – Heal, Inspire, Revive
A political novice from outside the party system, Carson’s support has started to gather in recent weeks. He has a harrowing but inspiring life story, going from living in poverty to one of the best neurosurgeons in the country. This seems to resonate with voters, tapping in to people’s fondness and belief in the American dream. But he is a pro-Life, anti-Palestine and pro-gun Republican. Known for controversial and offensive outbursts of discrimination.
Polls – Being a joke outsider, Trump has stormed to favourite at 32% on the most recent poll.
Tag Line – Make America Great Again
The Oxford English dictionary defines fascism as, “extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices:”. Trumps only true area of policy interest is immigration. His website refers to undocumented people in America as ‘illegal aliens’ and a key policy of his is to build a wall between the USA and Mexico. Even worse, he wants to make the Mexican government pay for it, Mexico being a country with a GDP per capita just a fifth of that of the USA. He also puts forward the authoritarian policy of cutting off all federal funding to cities that refuse to cooperate in his racist attack on people from Central and South America living in the US. Donald Trump is racist, sexist and homophobic with a passion to act upon his discriminatory views. The favourite to become the Republican candidate for President in the US is a fascist.
Polls – Biden has consistently trailed Hillary Clinton with little change, sitting at 20% in the most recent CNN poll.
Tag Line – We Want Joe
Those polls may sound average, but this is not even from a candidate. Biden only might be running and is still yet to make up his mind. He is leaving officially nominating himself until very late and some believe he may still decide not to run. If he does run it is hard to know whether there will be a significant shift in the polls. There are no official policies as there is no official campaign but Biden has served as Vice-President to Obama and supported gun control but has also supported Obama in his attacks on Iraq and Syria, even suggesting the need for ‘boots on the ground’.
Polls – Sanders has slowly gained in the polls, going from 15% in June to 29% in September according to CNN.
Tag Line – Stand With Bernie
Sander’s is the only true progressive in the mix amongst the two main parties. Bernie has policies like increased taxes on the rich and big business, raising the minimum wage, free university tuition, retracting free trade agreements and investing in job creating infrastructure projects. Sounds pretty good to me, but some are concerned whether the wider electorate is ready for such lefty nonsense.
Polls – She was the bookies favourite on nearly 60% in June, but has suffered substantial blows dropping to 37% in September in the CNN polls.
Tag Line – This Starts With You
Hillary was pegged to be a shoe-in to be the first women to live in the White House as President of the United States. A political giant over the past few decades of American politics, with a strong base especially amongst working women being a strong advocate of Women’s rights over the years. Reading through her policies there is some good stuff, affordable University (but not free), affordable healthcare (but not free) and increased investment (but doesn’t specify how much). I get the sense Clinton’s campaign is trying to be both left-wing and centre at the same time and therefore is neither. She also was the Secretary of State that oversaw the glorified assassination of Bin Laden, the bombing of Iraq and Syria and the continued presence of Guantanamo Bay.
And then there was Kanye…
With 99% of voters in 2012 voting for the two major parties smaller groups such as the Green Party barely make an impact on the Presidential election. But there is an independent candidate that is fairly well known – but actually there isn’t. Kanye West has pledged to run in 2020, which is another election cycle away. Don’t fear we all have time to apply for American citizenship so we can vote for Kanye himself.