US expats in UK assess primary candidates

US expats in UK assess primary candidates

By ANTONIA FILMER | LONDON | 16 April, 2016
American expats are closely following the US primaries.

American expatriates in the UK are following the US primaries closely. There are parallel sentiments of inequality on both sides of the Atlantic. Candidates who would previously have been branded as “fringe” have now become mainstream at each end of the political spectrum. There is a feeling amongst middle class Americans that they have been squeezed out. According to Pew Research Centre there has been a huge demographic shift in that the American middle class is presently matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. As in UK, the US has many middle class families dependent on the income of both parents to stand still economically, with property ownership coming much later in life. The extremes in the US appear to have divided society into the “haves” and “have-lesses”, represented by Trump and Sanders.

Trump is regarded as a businessman: situations will be approached with a businesslike negotiation, with emphasis on economic and strategic benefits for the US. On occasion, he is a deliberate master of obfuscation, concealing his intentions and leaving his options open, cleverly evading answerability. American sources in UK report that should Trump succeed his political tone will become more palatable but his basic anti-immigration/deportation ideas, particularly for Mexicans and Muslims, will remain constant. Expats question if Trump would moderate his apparently volatile and bombastic temperament when meeting with his fellow G8 leaders or the UNSC. There are concerns that Trump might dive head first into a modern day “Bay of Pigs” situation with Russia or North Korea.

Although observed as uncharismatic, Hillary Clinton is perceived by some as a safer bet than Bernie Sanders. She is considered better educated, more centrist and a less of a risk taker on the left or the right. Her “trump card” is proxy and proven experience in office, as Senator for New York, First Lady, then Secretary of State. One expat New Yorker called her “a cold blooded killer but we really do not have another choice”. To many traditional Democrats, she is “the devil you know”. For Americans, the question remains, after the Bush’s, does America want really another presidential dynasty?

Sanders has captured the popular socialist vibe that Europe has been experiencing. What he wants is economic egalitarianism. The humanitarians, peaceniks and the idealistic young have connected with him as they did with Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. The difference is Corbyn has long supported the “Stop the War” campaign, while Sanders is no peacenik. He endorsed Bill Clinton’s/Nato’s war in Kosovo in 1999, supports US airstrikes in Syria and American led but non-US military intervention in Syria. Expats are concerned if Clinton conquered Sanders as the Democratic candidate, would it splinter the Democrat party, as has been the result in UK’s Labour party when Corbyn was elected by a similar following to Sanders.

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