How is the political situation in the US ahead of the 2020 presidential elections? How does it feel to be part of the ralleys on both sides of the aisle? MdB Metin Hakverdi has been touring the US for the past five weeks to get the pulse of the nation. He delivered a very personal, livey report to us yesterday – what an amazing speaker!
For obvious reasons, he made pretty clear that he would rather see a different president in the White House the next time, but besides this personal note Hakverdis reports were more humble and human, observing the differences.
Describing for instance on the Trump side that at a ralley in Ohio, some 17000 people were there and that it seems like Trump does not want a debate like the Democrats, he wants big crowds and more of a rock-concert-feel. Hakverdi observed that among those attending were no person of color except for a hand full, in the front, wearing “Blacks for Trump” t-shirts – and cheering when Trump pointed to them to claim his support by the black community. “Otherwise, the event was all white”, he said. But while some radical racists were present and visible, the vast majority was not: “People from Ohio are really nice people, even when they go to Trump ralleys”. Adding that the crowd was not the “economical elite” of the state. This lead him to point out that like no-one before in the US, Trump has the ability to bring together the ultra rich (voting traditionally Republican and especially Trump for regulation- and tax-cuts) and the white, lower class that feels left behind and threatened by demographic change.
Witching to the Democratic side, Hakverdi described his memories of watching the TV debate of the Group that wants to run for President. “The first half hour, it was about Healthcare, which is such an important topic in the US”, he said. “Then they switched to immigration and the wall, for half an hour. And I have difficulties to remember what came then – and what the arguments were for the first two topics besides `I am not Mr. Trump`”.
He said that the strong economy, which makes even less fortunate people feel more confident, is a strong plus for the President and there is little room for attacks from the Democrats on the economic side – right now (let´s see what the China tariffs bring, when they make consumer goods more expensive for Christmas). But as the Democrats seem to struggle to find the right topic, they struggle with the fact that they have to pick a candidate among many while Trump on the Republican side is set in stone. This is a disadvantage for the Democrats, as traditionally the candidates pull each other to pieces in the primaries – which can only be damaging for the candidate who wins and then runs against Trump. Because it gives the opponent ammunition.
Here Hakverdi observed an interesting behavior: He did not get straight answers from Democrats he spoke with, which candidate would be “their” candidate. The response would be the question: “What do you mean – the candidate I like or the one I believe will win?”. He spoke to many people who clearly favor Elizabeth Warren – but believe she will never win the presidency and therefore fully support Joe Biden. Because polls support this and show that Biden is the most likely to win, according to Hakverdi, who did the analysis, polls suggest if today would be election day, Biden would clearly beat Trump.
The take-away for Hakverdi from this was twofold. One point being that polls cannot be trusted that much anymore, as Trump has mobilized traditional non-voters to a large degree and their point is not policy but “defending the lifestyle” and “bringing the good old days back”. Something hard to measure and hard to grasp in a political debate. The second take-away being that this is done by spending literally billions on the campain-trail (2.4 billion US$ only for the presidential race, without the primaries, the last time…) and that money changes “everything – well perhaps not everything but too much, a whole lot” and that political positions and differences are lost on the way. So the second take-away really means for him, that “we must do everything we can to keep money out of campaigning in Germany”.
Thank you, Mr. Hakverdi, for these fresh, unrefined and most interesting insights and the balanced, fair and personal report.