As the process of selected presidential candidates drags on in the United States, I am becoming increasingly concerned by the leading candidates on both sides for appearing to be willing to say anything to get the nomination. As I discussed in last week’s post, this apparent lack of authenticity is even more frightening than some of the policies supported by Donald Trump and actually has me starting to worry about Hilary Clinton with whom I have generally agreed in the past.
Ben Carson’s Endorsement
Former candidate Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump this week saying that the two men had “buried the hatchet”. He also said that there are two Donald Trumps. The one we see onstage making outrageous remarks and the other who is “very cerebral and considers things very carefully”. While finding him hateful, I have never seriously worried about the first Trump as I am fairly confident that Ms. Clinton (or Bernie Sanders) will beat him in the general election even if the Republican Party does not come to its senses. I am afraid of this second Trump.
If Trump were to change his tactics, downplay the rhetoric, and start making reasoned policy proposals he may actually be able to not only win the nomination but have a chance against the Democrats. The scary thing is that such a tone will still be based on the same misguided economics and xenophobic world view and if such a creature were to come to power, then the U.S. and the world could have a very difficult time.
Carson also said that the outrageous comments were just “political stuff” and that Trump’s bad boy image was somehow fabricated by the media and the Republican party’s “political operatives.” Dr. Carson talked about Trump’s broad appeal and the need to bring the party and the country together. This theme that Mr. Trump has been misunderstood might be the shape of the campaign in the next few weeks .
Hillary Clinton and Globalization
While it is normal for politicians to soften certain positions during the heat of a nomination fight or general election campaign , Hillary Clinton is re-positioning herself on some of the key issues which have been central to both the Clinton and Obama administrations such as free trade. The North American Free Tarde Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1994 and was a central achievement of Bill Clinton linking the economies of Mexico, the United States and Canada. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) establishes the protocols for trade between these three countries and another 9 along the pacific rim.
While there is a broad consensus amongst economists that free trade is a net gain, globalization does impact individuals in different and frequently negative ways. Fear mongers such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz use these legitimate concerns to win support and Senator Sanders has been against such trade pacts during his entire career. Ms. Clinton, on the other hand, knows better and worked for the TPP as Secretary of State. I personally was much more impressed by her earlier messaging which stressed hope over fear.
This year the political cycle appears to be a mess in many places and the issue continues to be a deficit in what Dean Williams from the Harvard Kennedy school calls Real Leadership. While some criticize Barak Obama for sounding professorial or overly explaining things to the American public, Williams would argue that it is the job of leaders to help their people deal with difficult issues and get through them . Perhaps the TV show that the nomination process has become is at odds with this critical task.