Countdown 2016: US Presidential Elections from an Indian Student’s Perspective

We take a look at one of the most anticipated events of 2016, the US Presidential Elections, covering issues relevant to students and recent graduates from India.

A countdown clock is ticking and will reach its zero on the 8th of November, 2016. What is it about? It’s about a horse race to the White House. A race, in which a wife of an ex-president, son of an ex-president, one of the worst tech CEO’s,  a retired surgeon, a casino magnate, a couple of Senators and some others of dubious merit, have engaged in.

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The upcoming United States Presidential elections will take place on November 8, 2016. History has shown us, time and again, that this election will mostly be fought within the two party system. We have the Democrats (liberals) on one hand and the Republicans (conservatives) on the other. There are supposedly Independents too, but these are a bunch of not so serious contenders who you have probably never heard of.

The series of caucuses and primary elections held in each state of the U.S. and its territories is part of the nomination process of the U.S. presidential elections. While the primary elections are run by local and state governments, caucuses are run, privately, by the political parties themselves. Both of these are forms of indirect election. Essentially, voters or party members select candidates for a subsequent election in order to choose the party’s Presidential nominee. The first caucus in the year 2016 will tentatively be held on February 1st while the first primary will be held on February 9th. The entire process shall go on till mid June, 2016.

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But why is this relevant to us? Why does it matter who becomes the president of the United States and what their stances are, on particular issues? One assumes that nobody can be ignorant of the power the U.S., as a nation, commands.

We all know the level of interdependency India has on the U.S., for now at least and for the time being, let us narrow our focus to two key issues that affects us – employment and outsourcing of jobs.  There is a significant percentage among us who wish to  go to the U.S., either to pursue their higher education or employment. Thus, the stance of the President on issues like immigration, outsourcing, visa, student exchange etc., ostensibly has an immediate impact on.our career and education options This article focuses on articulating the stance of some candidates from the two major parties on the aforementioned issues.

Democrats:

The Democratic Party of the US is one of the two major contemporary parties of the United States. In the political ideology spectrum, they are perceived to be a left-wing political party. Following is a list of their candidates with their respective stance on relevant issues.

Hillary Clinton

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One of the leading Democratic contenders is Hillary Clinton, widely renowned for her political acumen and for her hawk-like policy as a Senator and Secretary of State. To nobody’s surprise, she is now running a campaign for the 2016 Presidency. As a staunch supporter of the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013, and guest worker programs, she is firmly opposed to illegal immigration. In the context of issuing visas, Hillary has called for a “hard look” at the current Visa Waiver Program after the recent San Bernardino Shooting and also supports raising the cap for the H-1B Visa Programme. Although she has called for eliminating tax breaks that incentivize outsourcing, she has defended the concept of Americans outsourcing some jobs to India. To what extent will this stance of hers prove profitable? Only time will tell.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004In 2008, the word “Hope” took Obama to the White House. This time, it seems like the word “Combat” has gained traction among voters. The nation’s combative mood shows that it is not sunny optimism that explains the sudden surge in support for Bernie Sanders. Describing himself as a “democratic socialist”, he has voted for the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013 but has also opposed guest worker programs and an open-border immigration policy. Sanders is skeptical of the H-1B program and has lambasted tech companies for hiring visa holders while, parallelly, cutting other staffers. Sanders also claims that American outsourcing of jobs has forced their workers to receive federal benefits for being unemployed, which he identifies as a significant driver for the country’s fiscal deficit expanding over the last four years.In terms of education, Sanders has sponsered several bills in the past proposing Colleges to be made tution free and interest rates for students loans to be lowered.

Martin O’ Malley

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On May 30th, another man declared his intention to join the sparse set of candidates. With sufficient governing experience to break into a contest being held in a predominantly anti-politics mood, but with insufficient bullets to challenge Hillary Clinton in a game of “Comparative Curriculum Vitae”, Martin O’ Malley has jumped into the race for gaining possession of the White House. Going a step further in immigration reforms, from supporting the comprehensive reform bill to signing a bill allowing selective young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, he adopts a flexible Visa policy as well. He claims that he will work with Congress so that the supply of visas is better aligned to the demand. In direct opposition to Obama’s stance, he believes that the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership will ship jobs overseas and further depress wages.

 

Republicans

The Republican Party of the US, popularly known as the Grand Old Party is perhaps one of the oldest political parties still in existence. The GOP defines itself through American Conservatism, which has provided the ideological framework since the Civil War. Capitalist market, better defence and restrictions on labour unions are inherent to its ideals. By combining traditional American values with Christian thought, the GOP has appealed to a large section of the US population and has provided 18 of 44 US presidents. Here are some of the leading Republican candidates.

Jeb Bush

JebCalling for a “stronger, freer and safer America ” is Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida. Like many of the republican counterparts, Mr Bush demands stricter legislation on immigration. Bush has also necessitated the need for affordability of college education and provision of scholarships. As a governor he was known for supporting school education, improving quality and reducing the fees. Hailing from Florida, to where illegal immigration from Mexico is very high, Bush has proposed a system where the immigrants can earn a legal status, but not citizenship. Bush believes that it would be foolish not to expand the H1B Visas claiming that immigrants aren’t a drain but actually a catalytic convertor for sustained economic growth.

Donald Trump

Trending in the soWASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Donald Trump listens at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C Groundbreaking Ceremony at Old Post Office on July 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)cial media and among many others is the business tycoon Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. With the catchphrase “Make America Great Again”, Trump’s candidature has been endorsed and criticized both domestically and internationally. Trump calls for stringent immigration policies including deportation of illegal immigrants.  While Trump stresses the need for comprehensive education, he is a strong contender of the Department of Education and proposes to ban the Common Core once in power. Talking about foreign investments, Trump does not encourage US firms investing abroad and outsourcing employment claiming it “taking away thousands of jobs”. Ironically, large parts of Trump’s business investments are abroad.

Marco Rubio

Rubio

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Americans have a grudge against Cuba. Notwithstanding the diplomatic hiccups, we have Marco Rubio, a Senator with partial Cuban origins in the presidential race. Mr Rubio’s support for careful use of the H-1B programme is a huge relief to all the aspiring workers around the world. He has voted for more scholarships specifically in private institutions. Interestingly, Rubio calls for merit- based and skill-based immigration policies to enhance the economic capability of the nation. If implemented the new system will favour high-tech visas and reduce family-based immigration. This comes as glad tidings to engineers and research workers in other countries as visas for highly skilled immigrants will be expedient and effortless.

Ted Cruz

My Approved PortraitsTed Cruz, a junior Senator from Texas, is another leading candidate of the Grand Old Party for the presidential race. ‘Reigniting the promise of America’, Cruz rose in the polls in the wake of Paris attacks when citizens favoured candidates who called for rigid immigration policies. Stating his opposition to the H- 1B programme, which he initially promoted, Cruz has proposed to keep a close watch on the companies recruiting foreign workers to replace the American counterparts. The H-1B was instrumental in bringing computer scientists and engineers from all around the world to US. This is to be accompanied by a stricter visa system to “secure the borders” and “protect the Americans”.

 

 

Ben Carson
Ben_CarsonContesting to be ‘A Doctor in the House’ is the former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Mr Carson has been well renowned in his medical career and has also secured a Presidential Medal for Freedom in 2007. Like the Republican counterparts, Mr Carson calls for regulated immigration policies. Standing apart from the crowd, Mr Carson favours immigration towards the unskilled sectors most notably to the agriculture and farms. Though not severe as Trump’s call for deportation of immigrants, Carson’s immigration policy is rigid and selective, inducing companies to rely less on the H-1B programme. As an avid promoter of research and education, Carson has initiated scholarship funds for the same.

 

Independent Candidates

Independent candidates are like  Silent Spring – they contest and lose, nevertheless initiating serious discussion on various issues.  If the Green Party stands up for environmental concerns, the Libertarian Party promotes civil liberties and market freedom. Some of the leading independent candidates include the environmentalist Jill Stein working towards a “Green New Deal” and Floria La Riva, aiming to commence a socialist environment in the U.S

To a lead a powerful nation as US is a mammoth task. For the next few month the world will be anxiously awaiting to see a new leader of a superpower. Whether you want it or not US politics influences everyone in the world, be it students, job seekers, or refugees. The cut-throat competition for power between the Democrats and the Republicans defines the US elections and thereby the future of the 318 million Americans and people around the world.  Businessmen, physicians, environmentalists and authors apart from senators and politicians makes the United States Presidential Elections an action-packed game. Until November, it will be a long wait and watch for the results. We can only say, May the Force be with the people!

 

 

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