Anyone familiar with the game of Bridge knows that players can play for a contract in which clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades are trumps, ranking higher than any other cards. Or they can settle for a contract in No Trumps where all cards rank in order and no suit is higher than another.

Twenty-two years ago the Republicans gave America a Contract [1], one which they then set about fulfilling. America is in need of a new, but “No Trumps” contract, and, if we can choose another suit, let it not be the “pale blue pantsuit” of a Clinton, successor to the “dark gray three-button” of her husband!

It seems that there are many on both sides of the political spectrum who are tired of the current state of affairs in America and long for something new. The hung over effects of the recession mean that many in the middle and lower end of the earnings spectrum are frustrated by the lack of real growth in incomes. At the same time jobs lost in recent years have been replaced by many more part-time opportunities with fewer benefits. Frustration with political gridlock in Washington, combined with anger at the incumbent’s policies ranging from healthcare to gay marriage and to the impasse over immigration policy, has rallied around a political outsider and the most socialist politician ever to serve in Congress. The former is a millionaire businessman, whose news-making abilities have previously lent themselves to the entertainment tabloids; the latter is an ageing hippy. Both would serve as the oldest to be elected in the history of the American presidency.

The primary election system for the choosing of a presidential candidate appears incomprehensible to the average outsider. Each state has its own rules for the method of voting, and for the allocation of delegates to the national political conventions that choose the party candidate. Each state is free to set the date for its own voting. So, we have the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary to kick off the long season. Sometimes these predict the direction of the rest of the selection process, sometimes they do not. However, there is no doubt that they preview one of the longest of election processes anywhere.

When Donald Trump entered the race for the Republican nomination last year, the Republican establishment did not take him seriously. However there were too many other candidates to allow opposition to Mr. Trump to coalesce around an alternative. At one point there were seventeen candidates. 30% of the way through the process Mr. Trump is the frontrunner, yet his two closest rivals, Senator Cruz from Texas and Senator Rubio from Florida, have between them accumulated a greater number of delegates. More Republican primary participants have not voted for Mr. Trump than for him!

Mr. Trump, or ‘The Donald’, as the entertainer side of him has become known, is a larger than life character. His Wikipedia entry states: His branding efforts, career, outspoken manner, personal life, and wealth have made him an international celebrity.[2] His TV show, The Apprentice, running since 2004 for seven seasons in the original version and another seven in the celebrity edition, has introduced his no-nonsense business style to the American public. On the campaign trail his brutal blend of bluster and braggadocio has ensured that he can keep hitting the headlines with outrageous statements.

It is one thing to be arrogant and pompous. It is an escalation to be proud of being proud! Do we really want a major party candidate, let alone President who says such things as: I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters;[3] Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president;[4] and The wall will go up and Mexico will start behaving.[5]? Do we really want a President who has impressed his image on our national consciousness by pointing a finger across his desk and saying: “You’re fired!”? [6]

However, if we look to the other side of the aisle, what better choices do we have? I am sure that Mr. Sanders is a nice guy, but America has never been a socialist nation. President Obama came up with a great plan for ensuring everyone could get affordable healthcare. For many people the plan just increased the cost of their insurance. Bernie plans to make college free for all undergraduate students. It’s one thing to offer to make things affordable, it’s another to have courage to tackle the reasons why the building block services of our society, such as healthcare and education are so expensive!

That brings us to Mrs. Clinton. Mired in scandals that would have had the media all over a Republican candidate, she has brushed off the problems with Benghazi, and her email server, to ride a wave of misplaced popular acclaim. Let’s not forget that her husband won the Presidency with 43% of the vote in 1992. If Ross Perot had not filtered so many votes away from incumbent George Bush it is doubtful whether Mr. Clinton would have made it to the White House. His presidency was the most scandal-ridden of the last forty years culminating in his 1998 impeachment. Mrs. Clinton rode his coat-tails into political office, first as Senator for New York and then as Secretary of State in the first Obama administration. It is hard to see what her route to either of those offices would have been had she not been the wife of a former President who remained popular with his own party. The history of investigations into her business affairs during her husband’s Presidency and as a result of her position as Secretary of State should, at the very least, give us all a concern about her personal judgment.

But what choice do these candidates really leave us with? The best candidates of this campaign, those who have actually held executive office as governor of a state are falling by the wayside. Scott Walker from Wisconsin for the Republicans and Martin O’Malley from Maryland for the Democrats withdrew a long time ago. We are left with Mr. Kasich of Ohio, who has served his state well, has even won his state primary, but trails far behind the Donald.

Maybe Mr. Trump really believes he can run a nation – he ran some of his businesses into bankruptcy; the United States is already bankrupt! Maybe he only got into the race because he was determined that Hilary would not be the only candidate who could have a bad hair day! At least he is right when he says: She shouldn’t be allowed to run. If that were a Republican that did what she did with the emails they would have been in jail twelve months ago. Clink! [7]

[1] The Contract with America was a document released by the United States Republican Party during the 1994 Congressional election campaign. It detailed the actions the Republicans promised to take if they became the majority party in the United States House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. See also http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/the-contract-with-america-implementing-new-ideas-in-the-us (accessed March 11, 2016)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump (accessed March 4, 2016)

[3] Stated at a Campaign event in Sioux City, Iowa, January 23, 2016 – http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jan/24/donald-trump-says-he-could-shoot-somebody-and-still-not-lose-voters (accessed March 4, 2016)

[4] Speaking of Carly Fiorina, a former candidate, during an interview on September 9, 2015 – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/donald-trump/11855165/Trump-on-Fiorina-Look-at-that-face.-Would-anyone-vote-for-that.html (accessed March 4, 2016)

[5] Speaking on the Bill O’Reilly Show – June 16, 2015

[6] The weekly elimination of a candidate from his show “The Apprentice!”

[7] Speaking at a rally in Norcross, Georgia, October 10, 2015 – http://www.wmur.com/politics/donald-trumps-most-provocative-quotes/34313688 (accessed March 16, 2016)

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