Historically frequent changes in party control of White House, Congress to continue?
In addition to the many imminent questions about the U.S. elections Tuesday, November 6, is a more historical one of continuity and volatility. The back-and-forth changes of party control in Congress and the White House seen during the past decade are unlike anything in the last hundred years.
A Spanish diplomat and I joined nearly 600 other international observers, deployed all across Russia, for the March 18 presidential elections. The two of us flew several hours east overnight from Moscow, and then with a local driver and interpreter met voters and elections officials in frozen central Eurasia. Here’s some of what we saw.
In October 2017, I traveled throughout the West Bank with the American Federation for Ramallah Palestine. A few of my reflections were published in the Times of Israel (in English and in Arabic).
In traditional souks we met the sellers of spices and vegetables of every kind, as well as iPhones and Haagen-Dazs….
Beyond the spice shops and restaurants and holy sites, though, this is also Occupied Palestine…. I saw things that reminded me of the difficulties in Banja Luka, Tijuana, and Kirkuk. A new art gallery illustrates decades of resistance to occupation, and I anticipated decades more. But the graffiti on the Palestinian side of The Wall – peace doves, Trump satire, pizza ads – chronicles desperate, ironic, yet hopeful Palestinians. It was fascinating to me that many of the Palestinians I met were not pessimistic.
Instead, they told me to look at Northern Ireland, South Africa, the Berlin Wall….
A former Obama official warns, ““There’s no excuse not to know that the system is blinking red when it comes to the potential for a major national security-driven cyber incident to hit our critical infrastructure in a way that causes major economic issues.”
Former Israeli defense minister, General Moshe Ya’alon gave his first public remarks as candidate for Prime Minister. He began by agreeing with the notion that the Middle East is in its biggest crisis since the time of Mohammad, concluding that the problem is “Iran, Iran, Iran.”
Mr Trump’s “proportional response” of cruise missiles may settle the issue in the short run. But in Syria, in other crises, and in developing his own long-term national security strategy, it will be difficult for Mr Trump to find a third way in between more American war in the Middle East and American withdrawal from global leadership.
What happened to the level of our [un]civil discourse? Why do so many people seem just not to like Hillary Clinton? How did Donald Trump (not really a Republican) and Bernie Sanders (not really a Democrat) do so well in the primaries? What is this “change” we all seem to want? Have Republicans already lost the Hispanic vote, like the African-American vote? Why is trust in the media and in the candidates so low? Is it time for a third party? Could the whole electoral system really be “rigged,” and if so, could it be under foreign influence? Every pundit has a range of opinions.
Across the Middle East, refugees, IDPs, and indigenous religious minorities remain at considerable risk. The U.S. presidential election has not addressed any of these concerns, from humanitarian or geo-strategic perspectives. But the new U.S. president will have to.