U.S. Primaries – Is It About Changing Something Or About Being Negative?

Republican presidential hopefuls before the start of the first debate of 2016, which took place in Charleston, South Carolina (Picture by Rainier Ehrhardt / AP Photo).

Each presidential elections are about making a choice between changing the way a country is governed and keeping, more or less, the same course.

The most important question during the 2016 primaries is how many of those Republican and Democratic supporters, who’d turn up to vote during the primaries, define “Change” as important. By saying “Change” I don’t refer to political slogan of Barak Obama’s first presidential campaign. By saying “Change” I refer to the willingness of GOP and Dems supporters to make “changes” inside their own parties, to set political priorities and to modify the political mainstream in both major parties.

What Does “Change” Mean For Democratic Party?

For Dems change is about the course. It is about whether Democratic party would stay as “Liberal” or change to “Socialist”. It is about Democratic party’s supporters to decide whether they are satisfied with Obama’s left turn in governance (which probably means they would support Hillary Clinton), or they go and back a more extreme leftist approach to governance, opting for Bernie Sanders (whom many see as a candidate who’s to political agenda that president Obama would support).

It looks like that Mr. Sanders is open to move the Unites States further to the left, even further than Barak Obama did. For some, such change would be positive, for many it would be a disaster.

It is very important how many of the Democratic Caucus and Primary goers are moderate liberal and how many of them are far leftist. It is very important who would go to vote one the Democratic side – young, angry and those on lower income or middle class members, well educated and liberal on social issues.

Do Dems want to keep the current level of taxes and to make United States more liberal on social issues? Or they want to make the government even bigger, to increase taxes and start redistributing more to those who, for any reason, consider themselves as “poor”. Whatever the Dems choice is, these political alternatives are very much personalized in the likes of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Do Republicans Really Want To Change Anything?

For GOP voters “Change” looks much more complicated. The most important factor which represents “Change” on the Republican side is to nominate an electable candidate who’d become a president. Anything else, any other qualities, for example “How conservative is one or another candidate on social issued?, just doesn’t matter that much. A position on abortion, whatever it would be, would not help any GOP presidential hopeful to win the elections. For GOP, it is about to nominate a candidate who can come up with a strong plan to improve the economy, who could present a reasonable compromise on immigration and a one who has a clear vision on the U.S. foreign policy.

For more than a decade Republicans failed to elect a candidate who would unite GOP and the nation. Most Republican presidential hopefuls who ran in 2008 and 2012 primaries were more focused on dividing GOP, instead. Most of them have spent millions on negative campaigns against other GOP candidates, something that decreased the chances of the nominated candidates to be elected. This happened to Sen. McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.  In 2016, whoever unifies GOP, would become a president.

Would A Negative Campaign & Attacks On Opponents Help?

Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated and alienated with the way their country is governed. But it is not just them. Same happens to the Brits, Germans, French, Spanish, Italians, Australians and many other nations. The cost of living is going up, the middle is struggling in many countries. Nowadays hundreds of millions worldwide need to work overtime and put significant effort to pay their bills.

The struggling economies create political environment for populist candidates, who usually pointer fingers to the “establishment”. Since 2008, it has become quite popular in the U.S. politics to blame “Washington” and the “Political establishment” for everything, one might not like. Many political candidates have been tempted to label their opponents as “establishment candidates”. So, Bernie Sanders, a life long carrier politician, did to Hillary Clinton. Despite being questionable, such argument would work in favor of Sanders as it worked for many others.

It is not much different on the GOP side. It is amusing to listen to Trump voters labeling Rubio or Cruz as “Establishment” candidates. Really? Twenty years ago when Donald Trump was more or less part of the country’s establishment, Marco Rubio was still in his 20s.

Many candidates who have been decision makers and opinion makers for decades or were just career politicians, still try to sell themselves as “anti establishment”. The good thing about elections is that chances of those to win anything, based on such arguments, are insignificant.