Muftic: Why experience in both domestic and foreign affairs counts |

Muftic: Why experience in both domestic and foreign affairs counts

Felicia Muftic
My View
Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

More than once domestic and foreign crises have influenced the final outcome of presidential primaries and general elections. An ideal candidate has to be prepared to deal both domestic and foreign events and can make their case that their approach would work better, or they have the skills and experience to avoid blunders that could make the situation worse.

A few months before the 2008 campaign, the financial sector and our economy collapsed, boosting the election of Barack Obama. With terrorist attacks on San Bernardino and Paris, national security and foreign affairs became the most important and gave rise to Donald Trump’s politics of fear and loathing of Muslims and immigrants.

Domestic policy credentials are based more on ideology and appeal to their bases than reality. However, foreign affairs is reality politics and more like a chess game than a WWE wrestling match, since fallout, collateral damage, and history of past mistakes have to be considered. That takes knowledge, experience and skill to play at that level.

Bernie Sanders has some potential weaknesses in his domestic platform and zero experience in foreign affairs. He made his gains in advocating a revolutionary single payer healthcare system and greater income equality. However, by his own admission, raising taxes even on the middle class would be necessary to pay for his health plan, and that it would take a change in the political makeup of Congress as well as campaign finance reform to happen first. That is pie in the sky in the next four years. They are impossible dreams guaranteed to give us more years of gridlock. The House, for sure, and probably a Senate will be controlled by the GOP thanks to gerrymandering and that most state houses are occupied by Republican majorities with their hands on the political machinery. Losing the White House, too, makes the electability argument critical to preserving Obama’s gains, and Sanders’ professed socialism will spook moderates needed to win a general election.

Clinton on the other hand is in a much stronger position on foreign affairs than she was in 2008. Since then she has served as Secretary of State and she has a reputation as being the hawkish vote in the Obama administration debates, which is more in tune with the mood of 2016 than is Sanders’. On the domestic side she touts achievable goals as a protector of the Obama legacy on health care and giving more support to programs directly benefitting the middle class, while opposing tax increases.

If Jeb Bush is the GOP candidate, the foreign affairs baggage of the President George W Bush administration would be a curse. The advisors he has now were the same responsible for the Iraq invasion/occupation blunders. Trump’s way to make American strong again is sheer bully and bluster and likely blunder into war. He considers diplomacy and alliances a sign of weakness; his stated art of deal making techniques and lies may work in the private sector, but not where other countries’ own domestic pressures play a role. His hate speech has already made chances of military and diplomatic alliances remote.. His CEO authoritarian style is surrounding himself with yes men. He has already indicated he would replace generals who disagreed with him, claiming he knew more about ISIS than the generals did.

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