For months, the United States presidential election primaries have engaged the attention of political analysts, writers, politicians and others the world over. This is so because who emerges the leader of the world’s most powerful nation means a lot to other countries. Nigerians and other Africans are also interested on who becomes the next American president and what he has for the continent, even though Africa has not mattered much in America’s foreign policy outside trade.
If there is any lesson Nigerians will learn from the United States (US) presidential system of government, which we hurriedly copied in 1979 without much of its enduring forms and contents, it is the transparent way they conduct their presidential poll, beginning with its time-tested and keenly contested primaries.
Perhaps the second lesson Nigerian politicians will learn from the US primaries is the focus on issues and how to better the lots of the people. The focus of every candidate is what he will do for the American people. The third one is for the candidates to know when to throw in the towel instead of bulldozing themselves to power by all means.
The fourth and possibly the last lesson is that we should copy their style of primaries from state to state instead of our day-long primaries mostly characterized by rigging, manipulation and other oddities. I have watched with great relish this year’s primaries, the issues, the thrills, the banters and all. Like Nigerian democracy, it has its good and ugly sides with candidates hitting their opponents below the belt with uncomplimentary epithets.
I also have cautious optimism that at the end of the day, the best and most popular choice of the people will emerge victorious in the November election. With the primaries almost drawing to a close, preparatory to party’s convention later in the year, the journey to the White House is getting clearer following the big wins of Republican front-runner, Donald Trump and his Democratic counterpart, Hilary Clinton. With Trump’s victory in Indiana and Ted Cruz’s bowing out of the race, Trump is likely to clinch the Republican presidential ticket.
Although Bernie Sanders win in Indiana may temporarily complicate matters for Clinton, it is likely she is going to be the Democrats candidate at the end of the day. The real contest is likely to be between Trump and Clinton. America has a choice between Clinton and Trump. Who will make it among the two is left for American voters to decide? The situation will become clearer in the months ahead. The outcome may defy some of the current predictions on winning gaps.
Despite his newness to politics, inexperience, few allies in his own party to help him pass new laws, legendry rash and frank rhetoric, Trump has defied all negative ratings and analysts’ predictions to remain GOP’s sole candidate for the presidential race. Also, the Ohio Governor, John Kasich, has dropped out of the race. Trump has demonstrated great passion for the topmost US job. It is likely that the US voters will give him a chance to put to practice all that he has pontificated.
He has itemized his policies and what America and the world will expect from his presidency. He said it the way it is without minding whose ox is gored in the process. For the Democrats, Clinton’s likely emergence as the candidate is given and long predicted. She has experience and she has been in power for some time.
She is banking on her experience and gender to make it to the White House. If she succeeds, she will be the first female president of America. That possibility in itself is alluring. Many voters, including blacks would want to help Clinton’s dream to be realized so that Barack Obama’s good policies will be continued in the next political dispensation. It is, therefore, not surprising that many political pundits rate her higher than Trump in terms of political experience and the person likely to be trusted with the powerful office.
Her rhetoric is more refined and pro-establishment than Trump’s. She also needs to unite the Democrats for her to make it to the US presidency. However, the journey will be tough because she will be squaring up with a formidable contestant. Although Trump’s speeches may alienate many American voters, including Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, and some whites, Trump will be the game changer because he is saying what some voters like to hear. His promise to make America great again is resonating with many voters. His stand on the terror war, trade and immigration issues are in line with some voters’ aspirations. His catch phrase, “America first” is captivating.
Trump appears to be the favourite of many voters. That can possibly explain his victories in the primaries despite being written off as an underdog. Trump’s five clear policies are—a tax cut, reduced immigration, protecting gun rights, looking after veterans and growing the economy.
Between Trump and Clinton, Trump is a candidate to watch. He has zest, force and strong personality that attract people to his side. But for Trump to make it to the White House, he should moderate his rhetoric. He should change his treatment of women, his proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico and the deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants. He should urgently unite the Republicans so that together they can give Clinton a tough fight.
After Obama’s eight years rule, America deserves change of baton. Obama might have done well in some areas, his handling of some issues, especially the terror war though good, should have been better. His action in Libya, which he noted as one of his mistakes, is why the sub-Saharan Africa is under the terror siege. Such is likely to escalate if more radical and concerted action is not taken against the terrorists.
Between Trump and Clinton, there is no doubt that Trump can handle the situation better. His stand on this issue is clear and unambiguous. For the world to be a safe place to live, the spate of terrorism must be curbed. All over the world, the terror challenge is not hidden. It is alive and marching on. There is need for global action against terrorism, which a radical leadership in the US, which Trump represents, is likely to lead. He stands a good chance as Clinton to make it to the White House.