Category Archives: Presidential Election

Super Tuesday a View From Israel

Living in Israel during an American election year has always been an experience. I have had a site on Presidential elections on the web  for 20 years and it needs to be continuously updated. This forces me to be more attuned to events and follow them closely in real time. Thanks to twitter I can get up in the morning in Israel and  hear blow to blow accounts of the various debates.

 

Of course the rather unusual nature of this years primary process has generated greater interest then usual in the elections, and as a result I find myself often answering questions about the elections to Israelis that I know. Reporting for Newsweek has put me in the position of giving American a little of how does it look from over here perspective. This year however, my connections to the election process have been a little more formal. We have been working with the US Embassy on a number of projects this past year, and about two months ago we jointly came up with the idea of an App that explains to Israelis the US elections process. I think there is woeful lack of knowledge about the US and its democratic processes in Israel, and as I mentioned above the election section was the first part of our web site to go up 20 years ago so it was a natural fit. In early January it was decided to go ahead and develop an App based on our current material plus additional material that we developed, all of which we translated into Hebrew. The goal was to have it ready for March 1st Super Tuesday, a day that the Embassy was planning an event. So we began work, and happily we were able to create the App in time and it was approved by Apple the day before. The App which includes an introduction by Ambassador Shapiro is free and available in the Israeli and US App stores for the iPhone, and runs in whatever language you have your iPhone set to. An Android version should be ready in the coming days. This was also the first content App that I did the programming in, in Swift. Of course whenever I ran into trouble Eytan was always there to help.You can download the app here

On the evening of Super Tuesday I found myself presenting the App to a house full of guest in the home of the Deputy Head of the US Mission in Herziliah. It was a fun and interesting evening.

Presenting at the home of the Deputy Head of US Mission
Presenting at the home of the Deputy Head of US Mission

As to the results themselves- one of the ideas for the evening was a contest to have people pick who was the likely winners in each of the contests. I must say there were a enough surprises Tuesday night that there were no winners, the closest winner had only two contests wrong. It was a night of small surprises, with Rubio pulling off a surprise victory in Minnesota, or Cruz winning in Alaska. But the overall narrative seems crystal clear on the Democratic side- Hilary will win, and while still a little hazy on the Republican side the means of stopping Trump are what is most hazy. If it was anyone else, he of she clearly would be the presumptive nominee. While Carson has bowed out, it seems clear that neither Cruz Rubio or even Kaisich will . By the time they do, it will most likely be too late for the anyone to stop Trump. Of course Trump could self-destruct- and certainly something terrible could be found in “his closet”. but if I had to bet at this moment I would say it will be Clinton vs Trump. What I find most interesting as someone who reads the news constantly, and of course sometimes write it, is how little has been discussed about what factors are driving the Trump and the Sander phenomena. What is causing so many Americans to choose candidates far from the mainstream? Candidates who in any other elections year could hope at best for a third party nomination. I have written a little about this before and will write about it in more depth in the future.

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Why Sanders and Trump Won

The results are in from New Hampshire, the two outsiders have won.  Most pundits talk about the anger at Washington the anger at the establishment, what missing is the true explanation why Trump and Sanders are doing so well.  Their support reflects the growing sense of unease among most Americans.  There is the growing sense that their  children will not be as well off as they are.  Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have answers for that, and both are wrong.  Sanders blames the banks and other large corporations and Trump blames the illegal immigrants.  Both make excellent bogeymen but neither is the cause.  The banks and the big corporations are the symptoms and the immigrants are simply the wrong target.

The real economic culprit is technology, and no one is willing to say so.  How may jobs have been taken by computers in the last few years.   How many people answer the phones, act as secretaries, How many jobs has Amazon replaced?  How many printers are out of business thanks to E-=books? How many newspaper jobs have been lost thanks to Google taking all the advertising revenue?, How many jobs will be lost when the driverless car becomes a reality? How many more jobs will be replaced by robots?  The list is long and growing, and it gets event longer the better computers become and  the closer to true Artificial Intelligence becomes

For centuries there has been a balance between capital and labor, technology has upended that balance and now capital is ascendant.  The growing wealth gap is a direct result of this change.  The wealth created by Google, Facebook, Apple and others have helped fuel that growing gap.  Many of the financial instruments that have made many in the financial sector so wealthy are possible only because of ever more powerful computers.  When almost any worker can be replaced by technology the ability of workers to negotiate for better wages is very limited.  Politicians talk about preparing our children for 21st-century jobs, but I would love to know what they are. How many programmers do we really need?  How many Apps?  The answer is many less than we need taxi drivers, truck drivers and all sorts of other drivers that will soon be replaced.

Voters understand that there is problem, but it’s hard to blame technology.  In the past new technologies always brought new opportunities.  The end of the wagon, heralded the era of auto manufacturing, this time, that is unlikely.  In the past technology replaced our muscles, now it replaces our brains, which means it essentially replaces us.  Its a hard concept to fully understand, and even a harder concept to find solutions for. Since there are no clear solutions we have politicians who have created false bogeymen.  I fear that the fear in the land is very real, and without some honest discussion of the issues by someone fear will win out, and we could end up with one of these candidates as President of the United States.    A truly scary thought!

Chip
Chip
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