Merely four months later, a dramatic development in Taiwan’s presidential election happened. A third party candidate, James Soong (People First Party) entered the race and the KMT party made a switch of candidate replacing Ms Hung Hsiu Chu by Eric Chu Li-Luan, the KMT party chairman, allegedly based on Hung’s slipping poll number from 40% to the low teen’s. However, this switch of candidates three months before the election date proved to be disastrous. On 1/16/2016, Ms Tsai won by a large margin, approximately 6,890,000 votes to Chu's 3,810,000 votes and Soong's1,570,000 votes, largely owing to her four years preparation and shrewd message to the young voters through network and conventional media sabotaging and discrediting the KMT administration. This is the third time of changing administration in Taiwan’s presidential elections. Taiwan’s voters can be proud of their election process for a clean election free of violence, nearly void of noisy campaign caravans, and hardly any littering of campaign leaflets and posters, however, this year the voter turn-out was much lower than last election. A large number of voters are simply disgusted and disappointed by the lack of true candidate debates and the lack of open and transparent party primaries to select credible party candidates. Furthermore, in the past seven years, the opposition party (DPP) never fulfilled the watchdog role in a democratic system. Instead of offering constructive criticisms and proposals, DPP basically opposed everything the administration intended to do, hence forcing the government to come to a standstill. If KMT would do the same to the DPP administration after its inauguration, Taiwan as a whole will suffer economically and politically in the years to come.
On this side of the Pacific the U.S. presidential campaign is moving into high gears in recent months. After a number of primaries and caucuses the leading candidates in the Republican Party are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kassich, in that order. Trump is now shooting for the magic delegate number of 1237, one more than one half of the total number of delegates in GOP, before going into the Republican Convention. On the Democrat side Bernie Sanders is coming on strong winning the latest three caucuses over Hillary Clinton in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii with big margins. However, Democratic Party’s electorate nomination system counts party super delegates in addition to the committed delegates from primaries and caucuses. This system heavily favors the party establishment candidates. Mathematically Sanders still stand a chance to win the party nomination. The US party nomination process has the advantage of permitting party candidates to campaign at each state or territory by a planned schedule instead of campaigning at every state simultaneously. However, it has the disadvantage that the earlier primaries may have a greater influence than that of later primaries, inducing money and activist groups targeting a few early primaries to impact the later nomination process.
The unique phenomenon of this U.S. presidential election is the anti-establishment sentiment shown by the voters in both parties. Trump galvanized the white working class with high school education levels with “America will win again” and Sanders arose young college students and professionals for "A Future We Can Believe In", in contrast to Clinton’s defending the past (Obama’s) course. The hotly discussed issues are inequality and justice, college student-loan debt, immigration, foreign policy and political correctness. The democrats are moving towards more liberal and progressive while the Republicans are leaning more conservative and nationalistic.
The 2016 US election is an important one as the U.S. and China are entering a G-2 relationship by the fact that their combined economy has grown to be 40% of the world economy. The elected 2016 U.S. President must bear the responsibility and the necessary capability to steer the US-China relation to a positive peaceful path. Recently, several world political-economic commentators have expressed the importance of a positive US-China relation for the world. In such relation Taiwan is by far the most critical issue. Taiwan’s 2016 presidential election may not be on the mind of most American citizens, but Taiwan is a strategic issue central to the US-China relation going back to the era of Potsdam Declaration and San Francisco Peace Treaty post WW II. Since the U.S. normalized diplomatic relation with China in 1979, a rigorous mutual promise was made between the U.S. and Mainland China that Taiwan will be reunified with Mainland China in a peaceful manner. Taiwan under the governance of Ma Yin-Jeou (KMT) has made significant in-roads with Mainland China through economic cooperation. Both the U.S. and China have endorsed Ma’s peaceful approach. However, with DPP (consisting of several political groups with aims ranging from keeping the status quo and to advocating Taiwan independence) winning the 2016 election by playing up the ethnicity card, it has caused anxiety and uncertainty to at least half of the people in Taiwan as well as most people in Mainland. The next U.S. President must have a clear understanding of the Taiwan issue and be able to develop a rational strategy to work with Mainland China and Taiwan to resolve the pending reunification issue in a peaceful way. Americans distained by the mess in the Middle East and the ineffective U.S. foreign policy thereof want to elect a wise president to avoid engaging military actions for solving world problems.
Two things should be pointed out about the two elections. First, the Taiwan election is historically significant because a woman has been elected on January 16, 2016 ahead of Hilary Clinton’s wish to win on November 8. Second, in the U.S. both the election process and the polling activities are infested by big money. The fact that the presidential election may cost many hundreds of millions of dollars (campaign expenses, polling costs and media ads), voters must elevate their brain antenna to sift through information overload to find truth. In the next few months, each voter must seriously formulate his or her choice of a ‘capable’ president.