Presidential primary circus does New York

Special to

By John J. Metzler

NEW YORK CITY — The seemingly never ending presidential primary circus came through New York with the predictable partisan name calling and puerile political promises. For much of the campaign the political charges and arguments resembled peeved sandbox kicking kindergarten kids more than serious adults running for the nation’s highest office. While the campaign has “matured” since the wild and woolly days of New Hampshire and Super Tuesday, there’s still more than six months before the Finish line in November.

New York produced big wins for the leading candidates: Donald Trump won an “amazing” 60 percent victory sweep while Hillary Clinton’s victory at 58 percent seemed to stop the political bleeding from seven previous and embarrassing defeats by the upstart Bernie Sanders.

The tabloids put it best, the conservative New York Post posed Donald Trump “King Don” atop the Empire State building holding the needle like King Kong. The left leaning Daily News chuckled, “New York goes for clown.”

circusThough the whole political campaign has been focused on political outsiders fighting the system and Washington, what is emerging is that the ultimate insiders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are moving closer to their parties’ nomination, despite both candidates having high negative image ratings with voters nationwide.

Populism propels both Trump and Sanders. Trump pushes American sovereignty while Sanders espouses sugar-coated Socialism. Both have hit raw nerves with voters dissatisfied with Obama’s legacy and the status quo. Both preach isolationism.

But wait. Didn’t American voters want fresh young candidates representing the diversity of the country? Well, the initial Republican primary field provided just that. Both Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz are Hispanic; Cruz is still in the running. Dr. Ben Carson an African/American was also in the fray. On the GOP side, Marco Rubio (44) was the youngest candidate running while Trump is the oldest at 69.

On the Democrat side things were more interesting. Joe Biden, the current Vice President, was barely even mentioned in the campaign. It was as if Hillary Clinton’s coronation was planned since 2008 and why spoil the party now? Yet, Biden at 73, who would logically be in line for the nomination, denied he even wanted it, now patiently bides his time waiting for a call to come.

Bernie Sanders, a gruff socialist Senator from Vermont was not even a member of the Democrat party, but switched, and took on Hillary. Sanders, at 74 is already older than Ronald Reagan was when held finished his first term as President. Bernie was born before America entered WWII. Surprisingly the white haired Sanders has become the political Pied Piper of the Left, with Santa Claus promises which have captivated the imagination and votes of many of the youngest Americans. The young who demanded a youthful candidate, ironically are backing one of the oldest fellows ever to run for President.

Running on his well honed outsider image, Brooklyn-born Bernie hit his political mojo when campaigning in New York bringing a combination of blunt political demagoguery and targeted attacks on Clinton’s Wall Street links, to a noxious new level. Sanders when Mayor of Burlington, Vermont used to tout his city’s “foreign policy” in solidarity with Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime and Castro’s Cuba.

Sanders’ trademark clenched fist salutes are not part of American politics, and shouldn’t be. But Bernie has pulled Hillary leftwards, all the same.

Both Bernie and Trump are running as political outsiders. Bernie is not dependent on big donors and financial hedge funds as is Hillary; the real estate business billionaire Trump finances his own campaign.

Another irony is the remaining major candidates all have close New York connections; Donald Trump is from Manhattan by way of Queens, Bernie is Brooklyn born and bred before moving to Vermont, and Hillary’s address is affluent Chappaqua by way of Chicago and Arkansas.

Yet Sanders and Trump remain incendiary demagogues in a politically combustible situation. Bernie demonizes big business and successful entrepreneurs. The Donald reduces complex global political and trading relationships to simplified second grade social studies solutions.

But when the dust settles into the summer slump, what if there’s a criminal indictment of Hillary over her leaked classified emails while Secretary of State? Should Hillary be sidetracked, given that the Democrat party is decidedly nervous over Bernie’s radicalism, they may then look to Joe Biden to enter the fray. Equally, many Republicans whose “brand” has been tarnished by the brash and unpredictable Trump are very uneasy about The Donald gaining the GOP nomination in Cleveland. Many look to moderate and competent John Kasich, the successful Ohio Governor.

What is emerging is that the race for the White House will likely have many unexpected twists and turns before November.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]