The en­tire world has a stake in the US pres­i­den­tial race

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

The an­nounce­ment by for­mer sec­re­tary of state Hil­lary Clin­ton of her can­di­dacy for the 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion has brought U.S. do­mes­tic pol­i­tics to the global fore yet again. Mrs. Clin­ton, whose cre­den­tials are im­pres­sive, is be­ing joined in the nom­i­na­tion fray by sev­eral other Democrats. The ri­val Repub­li­cans have their own ar­ray of hope­fuls who wish to re­vive the party’s elec­toral for­tunes af­ter two con­sec­u­tive Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial terms.

All of them em­body the fer­vent vigor of the Amer­i­can elec­toral process, in which the lead­ing con­tenders for the high­est post in the land first have to win the sup­port of their own par­ties, be­fore they can con­front the other side along par­ti­san lines that help de­ter­mine the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal con­tours for four years. It is un­der­stand­able that, in the process, pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls turn closely to vot­ers’ con­cerns. All pol­i­tics is lo­cal be­cause it is vot­ers who de­cide win­ners and losers based on their im­me­di­ate in­ter­ests.

Thus, Mrs. Clin­ton has de­clared her de­ter­mi­na­tion to im­prove the eco­nomic prospects of the mid­dle class, plac­ing par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on rais­ing wages and curb­ing in­come in­equal­ity. On his part, for­mer Repub­li­can gover­nor Jeb Bush of Florida, younger brother of ex­pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, is reach­ing out to busi­ness lead­ers. As th­ese and other can­di­dates em­bark on the jour­ney to the White House, the elec­tion will likely be fought largely on do­mes­tic is­sues. For­eign pol­icy will be im­por­tant only to the ex­tent that it im­pinges on Amer­ica’s short­term eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal for­tunes as vot­ers per­ceive them at any point of shift­ing time.

What stands in dan­ger of be­ing forgotten in the elec­toral melee is the en­dur­ing stake the world has in the United States. Any in­ward turn in Amer­ica’s pol­i­tics, caused by the at­tri­tional strug­gle for mar­ginal or un­de­cided votes in a di­vided polity, would weaken the coun­try’s po­si­tion in in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics. The con­se­quences would be a diminu­tion of Amer­i­can in­flu­ence and the global sta­bil­ity that it un­der­pins. Amer­ica’s role would be weak­ened fur­ther if a Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated House and Se­nate are once again at odds with a Demo­cratic pres­i­dent, should that be the case. Dead­locked pol­i­tics con­strains out­comes far be­yond Amer­i­can shores and can un­der­mine the long-term good.

Dif­fi­cult in even the best of times, such a sce­nario would be omi­nous when the post-Cold War or­der is be­ing con­tested by the spread of re­li­gious ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism, and the rise of pow­ers that do not share Amer­ica’s vi­sion of a lib­eral global dis­pen­sa­tion. If the U.S. is to re­main the in­dis­pens­able power in spite of its short­com­ings, its elec­toral moods must not over­whelm its global mission. This is an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished by The Straits Times on Apr. 18.

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