Opinion: Like Trump, Netanyahu’s voters do not necessarily love him but they like what he does, but unlike America, there is no decisive factor here, to prevents political deadlock and would-be leaders must scramble for those elusive votes
Nahum Barnea – www.ynetnews.com
The U.S. presidential election campaign officially gets underway on Monday, kicking off as it always does in Iowa, a small Midwestern state where the vast majority of the residents are white and their area of specialization is growing wheat.
Iowa is not America, but every four years the eyes of the nation turn upon it.
Democratic party activists were to gather Monday in sports halls and community centers across the state for caucuses to discuss their options for presidential candidate. (The Republicans are sticking with the incumbent.)
This is a strange ritual, more akin to a youth movement debate than presidential primary. There are no polling stations and voting is done in stages, with activists trying to persuade one another how to vote.
The result is only important in one sense, seemingly giving momentum to the winning candidate and deflating their defeated rivals.
But this is only seemingly, for at the next stop, in the small state of New Hampshire, everything could change.
According to the polls, Democratic Iowa’s favored candidate is Bernie Sanders, a 78-year-old Brooklyn native who looks, sounds and mainly screams like a 78-year-old Brooklyn native.
He was the first candidate for one of the two major American parties to declare that he was a socialist and has also strongly criticized Israel. This would be a Jewish president who would not rush to pray in Jerusalem.
In the past, a candidate like Sanders had no chance – he was too radical, too old, too in your face.
But the age of social networking has changed the rules of the game, not in the center but on the margins, where his base lives.
Bernie Sanders is a mirror image of Donald Trump. Both are populists, one on the extreme right and the other on the extreme left.
American voters, tired of the political correctness, corruption and manipulation from veteran politicians, are being drawn to whom they perceive as authentic.
And even when they are lying, Sanders and Trump’s lies seem authentic.
Trump’s support is holding, just like that of his Israeli friend Benjamin Netanyahu.
The revelations about him withholding aid to force the Ukrainian government to help him bring down his rival Joe Biden did not in any way affect his status in the polls.
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The impeachment trial did not make his supporters cross party lines, much like the indictments against Netanyahu.
The Politico website appealed to Trump supporters among its readers with an interesting suggestion: Tell us why you support him.
Surprisingly, most respondents criticized Trump, but nevertheless decided to vote for him. They justified their decision by quoting the economic situation, the fight against illegal immigration, their antipathy towards his rivals.
In other words, not everyone who votes for Trump is a fan, just like not everyone in Israel who votes for Likud loves Netanyahu.
But after three years of Trump in America and after 10 years of Netanyahu in Israel, skeptical voters are still in no hurry to switch parties.
Some Israelis are sure that everything that happens in American politics is wonderful and want to recreate that at home. But they are wrong; America’s elections are corrupt and controlled by big money.
The system is also flawed, and U.S. presidential elections effectively only take place in five or six swing states – which is better than in Israel, where the two biggest parties are deadlocked.
Netanyahu succeeded in creating a bloc of parties committed to him, whose voter base comprises almost half of the electorate. He failed, however, to create a party to the left of Likud that could pull in votes from his main rival Blue & White and bring him the coveted support of 61 MKs, something which he also failed to do in the two national elections of 2019.
The third election in 12 months, on March 2, will be different. After two futile rounds of voting, Yisrael Beytenu Avigdor Lieberman seems to have concluded that he can no longer sit on the sidelines.
He is now talking about an alternative government, which, if I understand correctly, would be a minority government of Blue & White, Labor and Yisrael Beytenu. The predominantly Arab Joint List is apparently not invited.
Ultimately, this coalition is short of four MKs to have the support of more than half of the Knesset. It’s just not clear where they will get them from.