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Op-Ed: US Election


A Republican’s view of the ‘Protest Primaries’


By James Foley in Geneva


Republican Presidential hopefuls were extinguished one by one as Donald Trump's campaign caught fire. Pictured at the Republican debate in Cleveland in August 2015 (l-r): Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich.  (Keystone)

Republican Presidential hopefuls were extinguished one by one as Donald Trump's campaign caught fire. Pictured at the Republican debate in Cleveland in August 2015 (l-r): Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich. 

(Keystone)

By James Foley

I write to you from “la République de Genève”, where I’ve resided for the past three years.  Prior to that I lived on the other side of the world (for Swiss) in St Gallen, and before that I lived in Germany (Frankfurt am Main and Stuttgart) and in Brussels. All of these are worlds away from my home town of New Orleans, Louisiana.

In my altogether 18 years outside of the USA my perspective on US politics has evolved. I am a registered Republican, but for many years have not been happy with the mainstream Republican presidential candidates, which led me to vote for Texas Congressman Ron Paul in 2008 and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson in 2012. 

I’m also dissatisfied with the two-party system in general. As the recent primaries have shown, the US two-party system is a rigged game. “It’s the parties who decide on the candidates,” we are told.  Our vote counts for naught.

“Not so fast!” say many Americans who are starting to wake up and look for alternatives.

Trump is certainly an alternative to typical Republican choices of the past, and the more popular he gets, the more the establishment Republicans dislike him. Gary Johnson is running in 2016 as a Libertarian candidate, and for the first time he’s polling in the double digits. 

So many voters – both Democrats and Republicans – are starting to realize there is an alternative to Hillary, whom the establishment politicians and power brokers desperately want to win in November.

2016 will be a different race than in years past for several reasons, in my opinion also due to changes in the political landscape that we’ve witnessed during Obama’s two terms as “POTUS” – President of the United States.

The primaries had both political parties fighting challengers to their “big money” candidates (Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton) from non-mainstream contenders: an independent, self-avowed socialist US Senator from Vermont running as a Democrat, and a self-made billionaire from New York running as a Republican “to make America great again”.  What few expected was how long it would take Hillary Clinton and her PAC money to finally edge out Bernie Sanders, and how little time it would take Donald Trump to knock out all 16 Republican opponents in state primary elections. 

How did we get here? For Republican voters, I think the following points (among many!) led to the current situation:

  • As Bill Clinton (the best “Republican” President we’ve had in a long time) said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” US public debt is up to $18 trillion, 105% of the gross domestic product (in Switzerland it’s only 33%). Bank bailouts cost taxpayers billions, and the government’s “stimulus” package cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion. “ZIRP” (the zero interest rate policy) has enriched banks and ballooned US consumer debt ($12.3 trillion) and student loan debt ($1.3 trillion).
  • Around the world, foreign policy and security are problematic and aren’t getting any better. US foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan is ambiguous and weak. ISIS is on the rise due to US and CIA intervention. Terror attacks took place in Madrid, London, Moscow, Paris, Brussels, Boston, and Orlando. John Kerry negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran that many see as not in the interests of the US, Israel or the Atomic Energy Commission. Democrats are calling (as always) for more gun control. And US citizens are living in an Orwellian world brought on by 9-11 and the Patriot Act.
  • Not to mention, Democrats passed ObamaCare without any Republican support in either the House or Senate.

In past federal elections, Republican voters, with the support of many independents, responded by giving Republicans the majority in the House in 2010 and finally in the Senate in 2014. 

What has changed since then? Nothing.

As a result, 2016’s presidential primaries became “protest primaries”. The Democrats found themselves almost routed by socialist Bernie Sanders, a guy who never worked a real job in his life (like Obama), and Republicans must nominate reality TV star Donald Trump, who was helped by record voter turnout in several states, including many “Reagan Democrat” and “silent majority” voters who refuse to support Hillary Clinton.

What do Republican voters want in 2016?  In my opinion they want America First. US government has become too big, too powerful, and too expensive, and has done nothing to help average citizen taxpayers but too much to help special interests (the “big 5”: agriculture, banking, chemical, defence, energy).

In a nutshell, here are the most important issues for Republican/Libertarian/Independent voters in 2016:

  • Getting God back in America
  • Limited federal power: states decide important issues like marriage
  • Limited access to US borders
  • Limited government spending on foreign aid  – invest the money at home
  • Limited foreign intervention – no nation building
  • No freebies for non-US citizens
  • English as the official language of the USA
  • Congress must obey its own laws
  • Defend all our rights as US citizens in our Bill of Rights
  • Reform the tax code – flatter and simpler
  • Replace citizen-based taxation with residence-based taxation
  • Repeal FATCA (a huge issue for overseas voters)
  • Indict Hillary and send her to prison

Will we get there? Hold on to your hat – it’s going to be a race to the finish.

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The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of swissinfo.ch.

Opinion series

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