Letter from Neil Winton in America – Trump versus Clinton
To America, where I’m finding out about the Trump versus Clinton election, and who is going to win.
I shall try and fill in the holes left by biased BBC coverage, not to mention the rest of the mainly hopeless British crew of reporters in the U.S.A., on how Americans are reacting to this unprecedented campaign.
It is unprecedented for a number of reasons.
Donald Trump came from outside of the political establishment to win the Republican nomination. Because of his brazen, outrageous, take-no-prisoners approach to politics, so-called experts right from the start said he had no chance. He proved them wrong. As the opinion polls tighten ahead of the November 8 election, they’re not so sure now.
Hilary Clinton’s candidacy is also controversial because her long political career with her husband Bill has left a closet full of dodgy looking skeletons. Unlike Bill, who used huge dollops of charm and charisma to fend off bimbo eruptions, rape charges and even impeachment, Hillary is a charm-free zone and a chronically unattractive speaker. So under “normal” circumstances, with a half-way decent candidate, she would likely be a hopeless loser. But Trump is much more difficult to define, and the conventional wisdom says he is likely to lose.
During Trumps campaign for the Republican nomination he took various populist positions to cynically win votes. He said he would act against free trade agreements which he claimed cost Americans jobs, when the overall impact of these deals is to benefit most Americans. But of course those workers, like autoworkers for instance, were understandably noisy in their claim that they were victims. Understandable anger and a cheap political point made, but clearly not an impact shared by the majority. Optimists hope he’ll dump his anti-free trade rhetoric if he wins office
Trump also mercilessly exploited the immigration issue and he is on much firmer ground here. America has a tradition of demanding strict criteria on its would-be immigrants, but President Barack Obama has simply opened the flood-gates to illegal immigrants on the southern borders with Mexico. Obama cynically manipulated the issue to try and gain advantage for the Democrat party because all these illegals are expected to vote for his party.
Trump also has several powerful cards to play. Number 1 is the economy, which has languished under the Obama 8 year regime. Clinton promises more of the same – extra regulation, and higher taxes on people and companies. Trump says he will reverse all this, and there will be many middle-class Americans, without an income increase in years, who will like this idea.
Defence too has been a shameful aspect of the Obama years; think Iran, the Syrian red lines, and th Iraq debalc, where Obama threw away the advantage won by American forces by pulling out almost overnight and leaving the country to be menaced by ISIS. Trump will also exploit this, although it’s not as important as the economy. Obama’s weakness is also obvious in his unwillingnss to utter the words Islamic Terrorism.
Trump’s biggest problem is his personality, perceived by the mainly leftie media as volatile and dangerous. The debates will be crucial if Trump is to persuade floating voters.
And a quick word about the British press coverage. You may be surprised that the liberal bias of the BBC reporting on America was also repeated by the main British newspaper and TV outlets, which often were much more conservative and, in theory open minded about the U.S.A.
But during my various stints as a reporter and editor for Reuters in the U.S., I found out why. British journalists in New York and Washington operate as a swarm. They work together and socialize together. They rarely meet Americans outside of work, so never understand what makes the regular American tick. They all believe the news as reported by CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN, without apparently twigging its left of centre bias.
Tune into my tweets on @neilwinton1 for a clear view of what’s going on with Trump versus Clinton.