Opinion: No grounds for an all-clear | Opinion | DW | 02.02.2016
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Opinion: No grounds for an all-clear

Amid the joy that Donald Trump did not win the Iowa Republican caucus, it must not be forgotten that Ted Cruz, an arch-conservative, evangelical hardliner, did, says DW's Ines Pohl.

The news regarding the Republican caucus is not good: A man who insults women shamelessly, is universally suspicious of Muslims and advocates building a high wall on the border with Mexico won 24.3 percent of the votes. Many will be relieved that he did not garner enough to actually win, but they should be on their guard.

With his racist and misogynistic rhetoric, Donald Trump has come in second place in the Republican presidential nomination race. This is reason for concern.

Plenty was written about the fact that the Iowa caucus was largely about expectations and that accordingly the favorites Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had most to lose. That's true.

But amid all the analyses and cover stories about expectation management, the way in which the other candidates were hoping to win over the small, evangelical state with their programs was sometimes ignored.

That is the second piece of bad news. Ted Cruz is a real evangelical hardliner who has spoken out clearly against equal rights for minorities such as homosexuals or Muslims and against abortion rights and has said he would reverse the Iran deal and abolish Obamacare. On the day of the caucus, he told his audience in a small gym that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's legal capital if he became president - to thundering applause. A questionable understanding of Middle East policy.

He received 28 percent of the Republican votes. Ted Cruz, it can be said, is arch-conservative going on reactionary. While Donald Trump can be coarse and boorish, there is still some hope that his sheer sense of business might prevent him from causing utter chaos if ever he were voted into a position of responsibility. It says a lot about the Republican camp that one finds oneself looking for something positive in Trump.

Sanders' success will shape the campaign

Pohl Ines Kommentarbild App

Ines Pohl

What about the Democrats? Bernie Sanders has succeeded in bringing Hillary Clinton and her "Operation Iowa", planned with military precision, into major distress. In the end, she may win by a whisker and this will be important for her. But not for Bernie Sanders or his supporters, who celebrated bagging around 50 percent of the Democratic votes at an airport hotel as a clear victory. There was a roar when the white-haired former activist and youth hero made his appearance around 11 pm.

That's the good news from Iowa. Nobody but Sanders' most fervent fans really believes that the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist can actually win a majority in the whole country and secure the Democratic nomination. His ideas are too far-fetched, his political concepts too elaborate and his agenda too narrow. In terms of foreign policy, he simply cannot compete with Hillary Clinton, as has become increasingly clear in the debates. But he and his grassroots supporters are now the counterweight needed by Clinton so that she is not forced to go in a certain direction by Trump and Cruz. She has to uphold her liberal ideas of society if she does not want to give Sanders more ammunition.

The election campaign has now begun in earnest. It will be dirty, as the past few days in Iowa made clear. Therefore, it can only be good news that a decent dreamer is still in the game and will still be able to help shape the debate for some time.

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