The US Presidential election has polarised opinions like never before, so we asked a collection of Jersey’s finest transatlantic ‘cousins’ to join us for breakfast to discuss……..will it be Hillary, or The Donald who wins later today?
Invited were Doug Bannister, Chief Executive of Ports of Jersey, born and raised in New Jersey and Peter Funk, doyen of Jersey’s business community, who first recalled voting in the 1960 election. The men were joined by businesswoman Gailina Liew, Canadian by birth, but who lived in New York at a young age and Constable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard, who has been travelling to the US since the 1960s and is an honorary citizen of Nashville, Tennessee.
Nobody chose the American breakfast staple fayre of waffles, bacon and syrup, but we all tucked into a terrific early morning dish at the Royal Yacht Hotel.
Doug dived in first: “I think the extremes never work. I think most of America are in the moderate band where we allow businesses to grow and flourish.
“I think if you looked at the ambitions of the parties, they are going to be very close, whereas the figureheads are different and both are putting on extreme points of view. Everything the parties are about are very close.
“America has got some pretty significant cultural challenges that it needs to get to grips with.
“Trump and Clinton are extreme, but the parties are not that far apart.
“There are a few fundamental policies which the parties differ on, health care being the primary example, but if you look at it, both parties are more moderate that their candidate.”
Gailina said: “In the UK and Europe, the political labels in this part of the world, they have very distinct meanings, in North America, the political parties occupy this tiny band, which is mostly centric. It’s not in the extremes. The figureheads themselves may appear to be more polarised, but the policies they support are going to be more central.
“A new thing has come into the equation is the growth of social media. We are now victims of soundbites and video clips. The media is trying to re-invent itself and everyone is fighting for the best soundbite. They need to be extreme in order to get noticed and we are the victims of that. Most people don’t take the time to do the research any longer and soundbites can be misleading.”
Peter said: “Brexit is the British equivalent of Trump’s wall between the USA and America.
“And he wants Mexico to pay for it!” said Doug.
Peter said: “In America, we don’t have three parties on the left and a couple in the middle and three on the right, we have a liberal, conservative pact. Trump has come from left field. He has never been elected to any office, has no political standing whatsoever and has addressed the issues on the American consciousness.
“What is unusual is that Trump has stayed in this election by remaining in the extreme. The question is, are the American majority going to support that?”
Sadie said: “I think Trump is saying what the majority of Americans are saying and thinking.
“The wall is an extreme, but what they want is something different. What his supporters want is their country back and they can’t have it because it is everyone’s country. Americans don’t think they have any rights, or they think they haven’t. Trump has got where he has because he has said what a lot of people are thinking.”
Doug said: “I wouldn’t go so far to say it is the majority of people but I would say the majority have thought the things that Trump has said, although whether they support them is another matter.
“I think this does affect us. All of us. This is an international election. There is no doubt America exists on an international stage and what it does affects every nation on earth.
“In Britain, we have got approval to build two aircraft carriers, yet America has 13 carriers, each with their own flotilla of about 30 sister ships. That is unbelievable. If you are carrying that scale of industry then you are important. That figurehead, the President, is at the very top of tree and that’s why this election affects everyone.”
Gailina said: “The impact on everything in the entire geo-political world is affected by this. Who do you want to see at the helm of that?
“I think Trump has tapped into the sentiment of millions in America who are essentially afraid and feel like they have been left behind. This is an exact parallel for what happened with Brexit. I think what you heard was a roar from the same people that we are now hearing in America. What we heard from Brexit was discomfort from a lot of people saying: ‘What has happened to my country?’
“You see it in every developed nation which has brought in foreign workers to do the jobs that the local population deems not suitable for them to do. It is a very challenging thing. If you’re not prepared to do the jobs others are prepared to do, how can you then be resentful of them?”
Express: “Brexit is our own version of American politics?”
“Absolutely, yes,” said Gailina.
Sadie said: “The difference with this election is that this has got very, very personal. You should be in jail says one. You are a serial womaniser, says the other. They are both as bad as each other.
“The Bible belt, where I regularly visit, they are very embarrassed by both candidates.”
Peter said: “Every election has its name-calling going back ages and ages. Kennedy and Nixon was very angry.
“They are trying to appeal to the extremes as well as the centre. Trump has a third of the amount of money as Clinton for media and yet he sends out on social media an outrageous comment every day at 3am and it gets picked up by the breakfast news.”
Doug said: “Inevitably it has become a slagging match because of the way the election is presented and hosted. It becomes a boxing match by its very nature.”
“Clinton famously said ‘It is all about the economy stupid,’ but no-one seems to be talking about the economy, which on most tests is in pretty good shape. That’s the pretty unusual thing about this election.”
Peter said: “That’s right, that’s the word that has barely come up in this election. The word economy has barely been used.”
Express: “So the million dollar question, who is going to win?”
Sadie said: “That’s such a hard question. I think Hillary will, but she does not have the respect of so many people.
“I’m glad I’ve not got the job of voting for one or the other. It will be very close to call.”
Doug said: “There are only four or five points between them so it is a knife edge. We know what the key States are. If any of the battleground ones fall to Clinton she is going to win.
Peter said: “I think it will be Hillary. I think it could be 51-49%, but I think she will just get in. Barring a total misreading of the polls, Clinton will win.”
Gailina said: “It’s very difficult to call. I would agree with Peter rationally and based on the facts we know. It would seem Hillary will prevail, but it has been so unpredictable so it is hard to know.”
Doug said: “Imagine how Trump will react if Hillary wins. One thing is for sure, he will come in with impeachment allegations. It is going to be a pretty tough first 100 days for her.”
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