By Mano Ratwatte –
Why does the US Presidential election matter? It matters because USA remains the world’s only real super power; both economic power wise and militarily. It also matters because as of late both India and Sri Lanka have clearly signaled their orbit into the US sphere of influence. For Sri Lanka, it matters because if the USA gets the military toe-hold it desires in this Indian Ocean Island(with Indian acquiescence) it will clearly follow that ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups too would harm Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has a US$9 billion trade deficit with the world , ut maintains a large trade surplus with the United States. In 2012 Exports to the United States, Sri Lanka’s largest single-country market, were projected to be US$2.2 billion in 2012, or 20% of total exports (the EU and UK are 33% and 10%, respectively). The United States is also Sri Lanka’s largest single-country market for garments, taking in almost 40% of total garment exports (the EU and UK are 50% and 23%, respectively).Trump talks about tariffs and protectionist measures that are likely to impact Apparel exporting nations too. ISIS and Al Qaeda in Iraq all stemmed from the idiotic Bush-Blair invasion in 2003 and the global chaos unleashed by neo-conservatives. Same could be said about Libya under Obama and Hillary, and now where there was no ISIS, there is great chaos and ISIS in Libya! Does Sri Lanka need another round of terrorism; this time from a global movement, if US establishes bases in Sri Lanka?
This year’s election will be the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse ever. Nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day (31%) will be Hispanic, black, Asian or another racial or ethnic minority, up from 29% in 2012. True, the nation’s 156 million non-Hispanic white eligible voters in 2016 far outnumber the 70 million eligible voters that are racial or ethnic minorities, their growth lags that of minority groups. As a result, the non-Hispanic white share of the electorate has fallen from 71% in 2012 to 69%.
Both candidates, in this writer’s opinion are of less than desirable calibre. One is an obvious demagogue who has been making up stories, and speaking unchallenged mistruths swallowed with enthusiasm by his mass of overwhelmingly white fans; he has a massive block of predominantly lesser educated white blue collar voters. His ability to insult Hispanic and Mexican Americans and even insulting an American born Judge who just happened to be of Mexican heritage and women is phenomenal. He is a thin skinned bully and inside each bully really is a coward who backs down when he is challenged.
The other, has had a chronic inability to speak the truth and was stingingly rebuffed by the FBI but escaped indictment; and she was responsible for US foreign policy debacles in Libya and Ukraine. Clinton(HC) is viewed as the ultimate insider and a woman who is chronically secretive, having an “us against them” attitude and also someone who said things like “We will bring them to heel” back when her husband was President and signed tough crime laws many African Americans believed were specifically targeted at them.
Both have said many dumb things in recent times not even the worst Sri Lankan clownish politician would not say. “I will erect a beautiful huge wall and Mexico will pay for it”-Trump giving way to massive election erections for him. Clinton insulted the nearly 100,000 coal miners in critical states in March by saying (in the context of the transition to cleaner energy), “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” That is a very offensive arrogant elitist thing to say about people who work hard in dangerous jobs to support the US economy. HC was paid millions giving closed doors speeches to companies like Goldman-Sachs, who were responsible for the destroying the economy. According to public records, Clinton gave 92 speeches between 2013 and 2015 and collected $21.6 million dollars in just under two years; a coal mine worker earns an average wage of $21.63 per hour risking his life. Disconnect?
Trump is no better; being a Billionaire who has milked and worked the system and continues to lie and appeal to baser instincts of certain voter groups, to his advantage. He is appealing to tribal instincts with absurd China bashing too. Trump with glamorous Golf courses for the rich, never showed a concern for the working class until he decided to run for office; yet people are excited about how an elitist brash boastful Billionaire ostensibly represents them. The median income in the US is approximately $52,000. Yet Trump’s outsider candidate posture resonates with millions of uneducated white Christian working class voters (half of whom Mrs. Clinton referred to as Deplorables) and ignoring the fact that he lies more than Mrs. Clinton. They love his demagoguery.
A lot is being said about how critical the Latino or Hispanic vote would be this year. However, if you look at voter participation, then here are the facts. A record 11.2 million Latinos voted in the 2012 presidential election, but Latinos’ voter turnout rate continues to lag other groups significantly, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center. Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008. With all the Racial bashing their participation this year is expected to rise and favor HC but right now the race is too close. It will once again come down to a few battleground states and white voter enthusiasm for Trump.
What analysts are noticing during this election cycle it is Trump’s voters who are most enthusiastic akin to how young voters were so enthusiastic about Obama in 2008. During the primary season, young educated white Democratic party’s voters were far more enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders. HC has an uphill battle earning their trust as well; they are not likely to come out in the same numbers as they did for President Obama or Bernie. Her campaign’s attempt to blame Gen Colin Powell for her email fiasco lowered her image in the eyes of many.
If the current white voter enthusiasm for Trump holds(they just got more galvanized by Clinton’s comment about “deplorables”), it may just be enough to overcome the massive lopsided black voter margins enjoyed by Obama in the few states that matter and are hotly contested. Even if Mrs. Clinton holds the same margin, what will matter is the total number of black voter participation in key states like Pennsylvania and Ohio and total number of Hispanic voter participation in states like Florida. Thus, it is anyone’s guess as of now but if this writer were a betting man, he might still give Mrs. Clinton a distinct edge if she can ensure the same rate of black voter participation as in 2008 and 2012 in the key states. Going into this, Clinton has an advantage because both California(55) with the largest number of electoral votes and NY with 29 going to Democrats; Texas has 38 electoral votes and that is solidly Republican so the path to the magic number of 270 electoral votes favors Clinton so far . Yet on September 16th most polls show the race to be a dead-heat.
In the Confederate states even with the massive Obama surge in 2008 less than 20% of Whites voted for Obama. For example in former US Ambassador Robert Blake’s state of Alabama, only 19% of the White vote went to President Obama. And if anyone says race does not matter, they’re being untruthful. All the old Confederate states except N.Carolina (NC went to Obama in 2008 but went to Romney in 2012) have been going to Republicans in large numbers in many election cycles now; but those states did not carry enough electoral votes to elect the Republican. The battleground states once again are going to be Ohio(18), Pennsylvania(20), Florida(29), and perhaps Colorado even though it gets only 9 electoral votes. Given the historic trends, looking at the 2004 election might also be helpful. There the incumbent George W Bush beat the current Secretary of State Kerry(Table B). Poor Kerry, a war hero and twice Purple heart winner was Swiftboated by the rightwing and he never recovered from the Flip_Flop allegations about the Iraqi war.
The African American vote is a captive vote for the Democrats; but because the total number of blacks who voted in the states that mattered was lower in number, Kerry lost Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and the Election! In the 2012 presidential election, 64% of non-Hispanic white eligible voters cast ballots, as did 67% of black eligible voters; in contrast , the turnout rate was only 48% among Hispanics. What matters is just not the margin but critically, the total number of voters of each demographic who show up to vote. Right now, the African American(black) voter enthusiasm level for the Democrat is definitely at a lower level than for it was for Obama. One main reason is was obviously “ one of ours/අපේ කෙනෙක්” and President Obama was a historic first; he created American history more than 140 years after the civil war ended. Educated millennial Black votes and suburban upper class socially liberal white voters around Philadelphia are critical in Pennsylvania for her to win. President Obama won Pennsylvania because of the massive turn out of urban black voters and also because it is a Northern state he won about 44% of the White vote. He also won about 41% of the white vote in another Northern union state :Ohio.
Some analysts believe Clinton is not likely to get the same number of black votes as Obama did. Yet the Democrats have a better structured, data driven ground operation that Trump does to bring out the vote. What matters will be early voting trends and the ground game on November 8th in critical block by block campaigns in critical states. With Trump campaigning as the “Law and Order” candidate, the white voter turnout might be much higher than in the past 2 election cycles as well. There is a backlash against the Black Lives matter movement amongst whites as well. Attacks on police has made people angry. Then, the question to ask is will Trump’s white voter enthusiasm offset this anticipated drop in total number of black voters cast or will Trump’s advantage be offset by a larger turn out of Hispanic voters in the states that they make a difference?
This writer fears violence, and various obstacles that Republican controlled States have placed to reduce the number of eligible votes cast by minorities. The Federal courts have already stuck down many State Voter ID laws that discriminate against poorer minorities that Republicans introduced. Will certain polling areas where there are significant numbers of minority voters “run out of ballot papers” or voting machines “Fail”. The USA will remain a politically and racially (deeply) divided nation even after November 8th ; many like this writer are thinking of voting their conscience by voting for Gary Johnson the Libertarian candidate out of disgust. If Donald wins, will his signature Wall be Erect? Or will it be flaccid if Clinton wins? National polls are a dead-heat as of now.
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