A South African perspective on the US election

"Donald Trump is intent on closing off the world, whereas Hillary Clinton wants more people at the table."

by

    David Hornsby, associate professor of International Relations, Witwatersrand University

    David Hornsby, an associate professor of International Relations, Witwatersrand University [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

    Americans may be faced with a tough choice on November 8, but the differences between the two presidential candidates are clear.

    On foreign policy, Donald Trump has a mercantalist view of the world and he is intent on closing off the world and building up America's borders to keep others out, whereas Hillary Clinton is much more open and wants more people at the table because she wants to expand America's international standing.

    Under Clinton, ties with South Africa could be further strengthened through existing cooperative trade arrangements such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act and preferential trade agreements that would enable the United States to expand its interests in the country and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

    Trump, however, wants to "make America great again" and, in his quest to establish US global dominance, he might just want unfettered trade access without reciprocity towards other states. 

    Domestically, there are large differences in wealth and poverty in both South Africa and the US, and in different ways the closing of this gap has continued to be a key election issue in both countries.

    Someone like Trump might be accused of not having an interest in creating a more equitable society, whereas Clinton has presented a poverty plan that may not be acceptable to everyone, but putting structures in place to make meaningful social reform will always take time.

    South Africa, for example, has been criticised for the slow pace of land reform and yet over the years successive post-apartheid governments have shown a commitment to improving people's living situations. This may also be true for the US in closing the wealth divide, however progress has been very slow and people are impatient.

    Whoever wins this election might not make the kind of swift reforms many wish to see.

    READ MORE: South Africa to quit International Criminal Court

     

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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