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Presidential election campaign in the USA: Fortress America, America number one

, by Georgia McKinson, Gesine Weber

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

The presidential elections in the US will take place in November 2016, the election campaign is already running. Topics such as the promotion of the economy, migration, income distribution and the position of America worldwide divide the candidates and with them society. Is there in this election a view over the Atlantic to Europe?

Bernie Sanders is in the polls to the pre-elections of the liberal Democratic Party at 23.3 percent and thus around 20 points behind Hillary Clinton – © DonkeyHotey / Flickr/ CC BY—ND 2.0-Lizenz


  • ist Social-Media-Redakteurin von treffpunkteuropa.de. Gesine Weber studiert im deutsch-französischen Studiengang Angewandte Politikwissenschaft an der Universität Freiburg und Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence. Ihr Fokus liegt auf EU-Außenpolitik und insbesondere den Beziehungen zu China.

  • Georgia is the Treffpunkt Europa translator for The New Federalist.

The Favourites

Whoever looks at the Biographies of the three dominant candidates for the US-presidential campaign in November 2016 will realise that the candidates could not be more different. Hillary Clinton, candidate of the Democrats worked after her degree in Law at the Yale Law School first as a Lawyer for the socially disadvantaged and children. As First Lady at the side of her husband Bill Clinton she began her political career. Under President Barack Obama she was Secretary of State. In contrast to Clinton the candidate of the republicans Donald Trump has nearly no political experience, however and not least because of his real estate which are worth millions he has good contacts. Since 2014 he has supported the Republican Party with high financial contributions, he describes himself no less than “the very definition of the American success story”. The third candidate is Bernie Sanders: The non-party “Democratic Socialist” as he describes himself is in the federal state of Vermont since 1981 in varying functions active, currently he represents the federal state in the American Congress. He is appreciated as a pragmatic and successful Politician, who has good contact with the people.

Regarding the content there are worlds between the candidates

There is no lack of facet wealth in the election campaign already now a year before the election. Trump argues for a wall between Mexico and America to stop illegal migration, Clinton is calling for health insurance for all citizens, Sanders’ goal is the fight against rising unequal distribution of income. What they all have in common is the belief in Fortress America: Even if the positions of the candidates regarding international economics or climate change are very differential, no one questions the leadership role of America in all these areas. The principle “America Number One” is a central criterion for the formation of all political fields, accordingly this self-conception in the campaign election, which so far is nearly completely dominated by domestic political themes.

EU in the campaign election hardly observed

Possible Topics such as the relationship to the European Union, respectively to the individual member states is not talked about by any of the top candidates- probably also because it is not the topics which could move the voting public and therefore bring in votes. Various surveys show that the American citizen understands the EU as an important partner but only few have a differentiated picture of the EU. The political process within the European Union plays in the campaign election at least by Clinton and Sanders no part. Both did express themselves regarding the referendum in Greece and the decisions of the EU in this context, for the offensive campaign election they did not though use this thematic. Similar is the situation in the Ukraine and the relationship of Europe to Russia; indeed the candidates all approve the sanctions on Russia however they also see that Europe is under a force to act so they do not attack this topic in the election campaign.

Trump critic’s liberal EU-immigration politics

Different to the European refugee crisis as a consequence of the civil war in Syria, Donald Trump founds his racist agitation against immigrants in the USA. In an interview with the American TV broadcaster Fox News Trump said a few days ago “dark skinned people in the entire world ‘threaten’ to change the complexity of western countries”. The excessive demand on Europe with the refugee streams is for the republican candidate a model example with which he illustrates his xenophobic ideas. For Clinton and Sanders this means that they have to attack this topic too in the election campaign; it would be strategically fatal to leave this field alone to Trump. Especially as according to the current announcements of Obama also America should be a possibility as an Asylum country for Syrian refugees and thereby American citizens would be affected by the originally European events. The words of the rivals Sanders and Clinton stand against decidedly, for example with the demand for global cooperation and support of Europe to manage this crisis.

It does exist, the view over the Atlantic, also in times of the election campaign in which at the horizon even more American flags wave than usual. A European problem is part of the election campaign-however it is much less about the solution of the problem rather than a media efficient instrumentalisation.

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