I have been paying an unusual level of attention to the United States Presidential nominee race that I have never had to do in the past. Okay, okay. I make that sound like a chore. It is not. It is a fascinating spectacle, but given the hell fire and brimstone talk coming out of the mouths of Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, one cannot help but wonder how any of these fellas or Hillary Clinton (coming to her and Bernie Sanders in my next post)could possibly be of use to New Zealand. So, let us take a closer look at them.
Donald Trump is perversely fascinating. On one hand we have a candidate who cares not one jot for convention – if it helps Mr Trump it is good. Writing off an entire religion and believers might not have been the smartest thing, but Mr Trump must have thought there was capital in it. Climate change is a hoax. Shutting off the internet to “terrorist nations” is a good idea and the Second Amendment is necessary. Unfortunately this character will probably win the Republican nomination.
As for the others. Jeb Bush is a disappointment. To his credit he has not advocated for direct confrontation with the Russians (Chris Christie), advocated banning the supporters of an entire religion (Donald Trump), or decided on being an evangelical extremist (Ben Carson). He has two advantages that the others do not, which are knowledge of foreign policy and campaigning. Unfortunately Mr Bush will probably not survive past the first few primaries, and his views are probably more consistent with mainstream Republicans.
Ben Carson has been a revelation in terms of how poorly prepared some of the candidates are. Granted being a neuro surgeon is not a minor job and he was clearly good at it, politics and being Commander in Chief is clearly not his forte. A great example of this is that at the time of them anonymously going on the record, he had not done any serious research on foreign policy, say his advisors.
Ted Cruz. What a renegade. This is the man who tried to crash the U.S. Government in 2013, and to some extent succeeded, just so he could score a few brownie points of debt reduction. Mr Cruz is one of the ones advocating for boots on the ground against Daesh, not caring about the fact that this would be a highly inflammatory move in an already dangerous environment. He advocated for the Keystone pipeline and supports an economic flat tax.
Marco Rubio is considerably different from Mr Cruz. Mr Rubio to some extent appears to be working within the Republican Party. He wants to ramp up sanctions against Iran, and would not rule out military action. His domestic policy includes abolishing the Department of Education and climate change is apparently fake. I am not sure which is more dangerous: a considered approach built on homework that supports ones conclusions or the renegade style of Ted Cruz.
Carly Fiorina, being the only female candidate amongst the Republican field, does appear more moderate. She has supported at least in part various pieces of legislation brought by President Obama. She to acknowledged climate change, though she disagrees on the causes. Ms Fiorina did not support the Affordable Care, and says she is pro-life on the abortion issue despite signalling support for it in cases of under 20 weeks.
And finally, we have Chris Christie. Mr Christie originally struck me as a moderate during the Hurricane Sandy emergency. His support for reducing carbon emissions. He supported the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, saying it was a good day for Latin-Americans. However, he has since come unstuck, namely suggesting that U.S. combat jets fight their Russian counterparts over Syria. Mr Christie however is lagging in the polls with Mr Cruz and Mr Trump well ahead of him.
I do not hold high hopes for the United States of America, much less New Zealand, if any of these Republican candidates become President. All seem to be competing to have the toughest stance on Iran and Daesh, and if that means going to full blown war in the case of Iran, so be it. And their regard for the environment is largely non-existential. It would be very interesting to see how a Republican President would view New Zealand with a possible centre or centre left Government at the end of 2017.