The US Presidential Elections and Georgia
23 April, 2015
The American presidential campaign is the longest and most expensive campaign in the world and has now officially started. The following is a run down on the candidates, their background, chances and what they would mean for Georgia. 

The Democratic Party candidate will most probably be Hillary Clinton. She ran a tough campaign for the party nomination against Obama in 2008 then when he narrowly won, joined his administration as Secretary of State. She is experienced, respected and like her
husband even more respected and liked now than when he left the presidency in 2001. The media already knows so much about her and them that there is little chance of a scandal. There are a few other possible candidates, mostly to the left of Ms. Clinton but if any run, none will beat her. There are advantages in running unopposed for the nomination, particularly in saving money for the general election.
The Republican party has three main informal factions. The smallest is the Libertarians. They believe in a small government and are generally considered a fringe group, they don’t fit precisely in the usual left right political spectrum. The champion of this group has already declared he will run, his name is Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky. His father, also a libertarian, ran unsuccessfully to be the Republican candidate in 2008. 
The second group is the Tea Party. This informal group came into existence during the Republican campaign of 2007 and 2008. It is generally less educated white men in the middle part of the country, and outside of cities. Its core tends to be people who used to have high paying jobs for example in factories that no longer work since industrial production has moved to East Asia. Many are not comfortable with an African American being president. Their policies are not coherent, and in general they are organized around opposition to Obama specifically but also opposition to several progressive political ideas. They are against immigration. Their discourse tends to revolve around the idea that America has been “taken over”. Unlike the libertarians it is a group founded in response to generalized anxiety rather than any specific or rational policy. 
The first candidate to announce he will run is from this faction, his name is Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas. Another candidate from this group is Marco Rubio a Senator from Florida. He is very conservative, like Cruz very anti-Obama and also Hispanic. Both Rubio’s parents are from Cuba, as is Cruz’s father. Both are against Obama’s immigration reform policy, unusual considering their background. At one point Rubio got headlines by making very aggressive statements about Russia related to Ukraine but these are easy, popular and common among any opposition party. Obama and Clinton have both consistently backed Merkel’s and the EU’s policy with regards to Russia, pushing for a strong response while knowing that in the end the EU and NATO has much more influence than the US alone. 
The third group is what we can call the Rich White Men. They are very much pro-big business, although not necessarily pro-market. Due to a Supreme Court decision in 2010 called “Citizens United” that opened US election campaigns to unlimited amounts of money, there are several extremely wealthy individuals that give millions of dollars to candidates that support their interests. This group largely supports core of decision makers that have run the Republican Party for many years. They fear the Libertarians and Tea Party and will likely have their own candidate, probably Jeb Bush, the brother of George W. Bush. They couldn’t be said to have a real ideology but are simply logically self interested and are well funded enough to influence the process to their advantage and get votes from the other two groups despite strained relations.
There will be many many people trying to get the Republican nomination because it is such an open field with no apparent front runner. It is not clear who will win the Republican nomination but in general after much discussion, the Rich White Men usually choose because they have the money. In 2012 their candidate was Mitt Romney who after a very long and competitive primary race took the Republican nomination and then lost heavily in the general election to Obama.
The Republicans tend to run a divisive message, the Democrats tend to promote a message of unity. Clinton’s campaign launched with a video that showed an incredible collection of different groups, young, old, gay, straight, male, female, and of all races and colors. At the same time, Obama is seen as somewhat apart from the party, so any reaction against him fostered by the Republicans has always be against him personally rather than against the Democratic party so is likely to have limited negative consequences for Clinton. She is the most likely next US president.
Clinton has been to Georgia and knows the country and its issues well. She has a reputation for being a bit of a hawk and, like almost all political forces in the United States, deeply mistrusts Putin. She has been very supportive of Ukraine in general and particularly since the invasion by Russia. The consequences of a Republicans victory would be less certain. Few of the candidates have been to Georgia, and they tend to focus on domestic issues rather than international. Traditionally the Republicans have a more warlike posture, more likely to start wars. The Democrats have a better recent record of ending them. In general the Democrats tend to have more of a long term foreign policy strategy and tend to work more in tandem with allies, particularly the European Union. This would be very much in Georgia’s interest. With Georgia’s relations with the West, the most important things are it’s relationship with the EU and with the US but also a strong relationship between he two.