'Trump Still Working on his Political Ideology'


Jeff Morris and Joyce Peppin represent both ends of the political spectrum in the United States of America - Democrat and Republican parties respectively.

In an interactive session on the US presidential elections held at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Federation House in June 2016, American leaders Jeff Morris and Joyce Peppin spoke extensively about the US elections 2016 and shared their views and insights on the most anticipated elections in the world. They covered various aspects of the electoral process - nomination, role of media, fund raising, reforms, etc.

Jeff Morris and Joyce Peppin represent both ends of the political spectrum in the United States of America - Democrat and Republican parties respectively. The Indian invitees included Hon’ble Members of Parliament Udit Raj and Gaurav Gogoi, former Chief of Election Commission, S Y Querishi and a host of reputed policy experts and CEOs. The session was organised by FICCI’s Forum of Parliamentarians.

They say the government you elect is the government you deserve. The session began with the introductory remarks by Sidharth Birla, past President, FICCI who quoted Abraham Lincoln - "The ballot is stronger than the bullet." It was followed by an interactive discussion on the US elections 2016 and its impact on the economic engagement, and the foreign policy dimension between India and the US.

Former Chief of Election Commission, S Y Querishi asked the speakers to “demystify the election process for the Indian mortal.”

Joyce Peppin, the Majority Leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives, kick started the discussion with a question, “What does it take to become the president of the United States?”, and gave an overview of the eligibility criteria, and the party process.

“Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are unpopular in their own party. Trump’s aggressive rhetoric aside, there’s not much clarity on his policies that concern the world and traditional Republican Party leadership. Although Trump’s expertise in business is a talking point, he is still working on his political ideology,” said Joyce Peppin.

Noting that candidates such as Bernie Sanders couldn’t have stayed too long if not for the power of social media and blogs, Jeff Morris, currently serving in the Washington State House of Representatives, said: “Social media has changed the political landscape.”

Morris also gave a thorough overview of the fund raising for election campaigns, and public debates between the candidates of the two opposing parties.

Interestingly while Clinton is known in politics, Trump is not a career politician. Trump is a billionaire businessman, whereas Clinton’s stand on trade policies and business is still not clear.

Gun violence and control, renewable energy and climate change, visa policies and immigration, industry and business, social media and advertising, and healthcare and social issues also figured in the discussion.

The United States of America has ‘Red States’ that traditionally vote for the Republican Party, while ‘Blue States’ are known for voting the Democrats. Those having mixed voting records are called ‘Purple States’ or 'Swing States'.

Similar to the Indian presidential election, the American presidential election is an indirect one. In the presidential poll, every state is represented by a certain number of electors. The main difference between the Indian and American presidential election is that all the electors of a given state go to the winning candidate. For instance, California has 55 electors. Whoever wins California by even one vote, all 55 will go in his/her side.

The halfway point in the race is 270 seats. Although, there are fewer ‘Blue States’, most of the United States other than the east and west coast are, currently, ‘Red’ or ‘Swing’. However, being a ‘Blue State’ on the US west coast, California has 55 seats. The biggest ‘Red State’, Texas comes second with 38, followed by New York with 29 seats, while Illinois and Pennsylvania have 20 each. New York is also considered a ‘Blue State’. In the US presidential elections 2016, ‘Purple States’ might just make all the difference.

Referring to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s views on women, Archana Garodia Gupta, President of FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) asked if gender politics would be a contributing factor in the US elections and would more women vote for Clinton? Peppin replied that although women vote across party lines, gender, as the sole factor for votes, cannot be considered.

The issue of fund raising in the electoral process featured prominently during the session. “It is illegal to raise money from the non-American sources in the election campaign,” Morris said.

“Although citizens are fine with small donations and group finance initiatives, they may or may not like the spending of the money they donated,” Peppin opined.

Ending the session with a question posed on the relevance of Indo-American relationship, both the leaders agreed that the current election rhetoric and the outcome of the presidential election is not going to affect the US economic engagements with other countries or bring a shift in the US foreign policy as a whole, because, ultimately, it is a joint effort of the Congress and the president.

The writer is Associate Editor of the Diplomatist

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.