“This election sucks, they’re both horrible” is a statement echoed in many parts of the country as the election approaches this November. Both candidates, Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, are historically disliked. Hillary is like the nerd in front of the class that does anything to get an A in class, while Trump is the mouth-breather in the back making fart noises. The proof of this is that Trump is viewed unfavorably by 61 percent of voters, while Clinton has an unfavorable view of 53 percent.
Both results are terrible, but in Trump’s case the measurement is the worst unfavorable result in recorded history for a candidate this deep in the race. However, these statistics only reveal part of the truth of this election. The candidates are not on equal footing: one is a lawyer and politician of 40 years, the other is running for office for the first time in his life with no prior political, judicial or military experience— which are the career fields that usually produce U.S. presidents.
daughter Chelsea, President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton
Clinton is the known candidate and has been in the public arena for decades, which hurts her since there is more to dissect and criticize about her body of work in politics. This is especially true this election cycle, where America — and many other parts of the world — seem to have been swept up in a populist movement. Fresh and new is good, old and established is bad.
So when her email scandal first surfaced over a year ago, the reaction from the public was largely here we go again with a Clinton scandal. The FBI probed into the matter of Clinton using a personal server for government emails over several months. The investigation was led by director James Comey — a career Republican who worked in the Bush administration and donated to Romney/McCain campaigns — which ultimately found that she was not guilty of any crime.
The findings were that she was careless and should have used better judgement, but ultimately there was no proof a crime was committed. This did not satisfy detractors — “Conspiracy!” they shouted. The FBI was in on it even though they have nothing to gain from a cover up and everything to lose from it, from reputation to legal consequences. Why exactly would a conservative-leaning FBI director try to help Clinton win? He wouldn’t, but logic stands in the way of a good narrative, ratings and page views. You can find legitimate criticisms of Clinton without the ridiculous accusations, which makes this all the more perplexing.
Whether it is emails or Benghazi, investigations have yet to prove that she committed any crime or act of treason like many exclaim and wish to believe. Nonetheless, people still shout “lock her up!” and refer to her as “Crooked Hillary.”
Nothing says democracy and freedom like declaring someone is guilty of criminal activity even though the evidence suggests otherwise every time — the exact opposite of how how our system is intended to work.
Fox News has helped lead the way in that regard, spending the last four years smearing Clinton in preparation for her 2016 presidential run. It’s worked as noted by her unfavorable rating and perception. The mastermind behind the fake scandals that have turned up nothing but anger has been Roger Ailes, former head of Fox News and a veteran of political warfare (he consulted on the Nixon, Reagan and Bush campaigns before entering the media business).
Ailes was just fired for decades of sexual harassment against numerous women. But sure, let’s keep repeating his story lines since he obviously has moral credibility and no bias. How many times can a person be falsely accused before it’s obvious what the motives behind constant investigations are? Ailes now consults the Trump campaign after being fired from Fox News and is helping him prepare for debates. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
And it’s not just conservative Americans. Liberals who are to the left of Clinton’s politics have adopted this tactic as well. They have repeated the same claims, mostly on social media, in support of Bernie Sanders and now Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. When Wikileaks released several emails from the Democratic National Committee, detractors once again shouted conspiracy. This time it was the “Bernie Bros” who proclaimed Clinton a cheat and criminal, ironically based solely on information stolen by foreign hackers (that’s a federal crime folks).
The hacked information revealed that Democratic Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz preferred Hillary (Clinton is a career Democrat, Sanders a career independent until he ran for president this election). Some staffers even discussed whether Sanders being Jewish or perhaps an atheist could hurt his campaign. This of course is improper.
So where is the proof that Clinton is personally involved in these emails? There isn’t any proof because they were written by other people who have since been fired from the committee. Sanders himself openly talked about his Jewish heritage as well as being secular during his campaign, this was not a secret. Nearly four million more Americans voted for Clinton than Sanders in the primaries, a landslide victory for that stage of the election. Private work emails did not decide that race, the right to vote did.
The final vote tally for the 2016 primaries:
1. Hillary Clinton: 15.8 million
2. Donald Trump: 13.3 million
3. Bernie Sanders: 12 million
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 15, 2016
This is a case of many Bernie Bros being sore losers after a political race; pride can turn defeat into crying foul. Sanders simply didn’t have the coalition of registered voters behind him that Clinton amassed. He also struggled mightily with black voters — most evident in southern states with the largest population of black people in the nation — which was costly to his campaign. Sanders himself conceded victory to Clinton at the Democratic convention, which goes against the scandalous “Rigged!” headlines. He knows the nomination wasn’t stolen from him and Wasserman-Schultz — the person ultimately responsible for the improprieties involved— lost her position as chairperson for her unprofessional behavior and incompetence.
Promoting narratives that shape politics
These stolen emails were fuel for the anti-Clinton sentiment because they fit a narrative which has largely been contrived. For example, the same crowd who started the Crooked Hillary mantra believe President Obama is secretly a Muslim even though it’s been well established by the president himself and records that he is a Christian. These rumor mongers believe that Obama is foreign, sympathizes with terrorists, and is against Christian/Anglo-Saxon culture. That is to say, those who believe Obama wasn’t born in America also tend to use the phrase ‘Crooked Hillary’.
Realistically, Clinton should beat Trump in this election. She is more qualified, experienced and has detailed policies formulated from previous elected positions — as opposed to Trump who is a better public speaker and is a charismatic performer. However, because Clinton has been a political target for almost 30 years as opposed to the one year for Trump, he has a real shot.
Clinton has been ahead since both party conventions, but due to her unfavorable numbers with white men, independents and millennials the election results are not certain. The election is not close to a toss-up, with the most favorable projections giving Trump around a 40 percent chance at winning. However, there are incredibly high numbers of undecided voters — including millennials voting for the first time — who don’t have allegiance to either candidate. This makes the result more difficult to predict than in 2012, for example. Another factor are Third party bids — Jill Stein and Gary Johnson bids disproportionately hurt Clinton.
Many Americans tend to vote based on gut feelings and personal bias, not specific policy issues. This isn’t unique to this year, but this election proves this theory clearly. Trump’s appeal is to the frustration and anger over the political status quo, as well as to cultural and demographic shifts. Passionate speeches and insults are what attract many followers to his rallies — “he’s not politically correct, he tells it like it is!” — rather than facts and data.
He is a cult of personality, a so-called ‘strong man’ who promises to protect his voters and “Make America Great Again.” If you want to know his policies and how he arrived at those ideas, though, you are out of luck. He comes from the world of business where the art of the deal is selling to people not governing them. His expertise lies in how to use the media to get his message across, promoting his message in relatable terms. This is his strength and why he upset sixteen other candidates during the Republican primaries. To Trump’s credit, he’s made it far this election on bluster and bravado.
Donald Trump at his best, playing to a crowd
Trump used the “silent majority” tactic for the better part of a year now, courting mainly white voters, specifically males who tend not to have a college degree and Americans who are suspicious of immigrant groups and their cultural influence on America. This strategy has fallen short to this point since he’s been trailing for most of 2016 and has yet to expand his voting base. He has the South and most of the Midwest in his favor, while losing badly on both coast lines and in many swing-states. As of September, he’s made up a lot of ground on Clinton in Ohio and Florida, while clearly still being down in other states he cannot win without like New Hampshire, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
This has Trump feeling desperate and going out of his element. He’s tried reading from teleprompters for the first time, courting minority voters and using softer language when discussing immigration at times. He even charged Clinton with being a bigot, to cast doubt on her character and make a dent on her lead in the polls. This rings hollow when you factor in that Trump has been sued by the Justice Department for housing discrimination against people of color in the past. As well as hiring campaign managers who have attacked a female reporter, been charged with domestic violence, taken money from foreign dictators hostile to the US and operating an anti-Semitic/racist website called Breitbart. He has not explained nor apologized for any of these transgressions in his campaign to this date.
Clinton apologized for using the term “super predators” which had racial undertones, after Black Lives Matter confronted her about those 1996 remarks discussing crime.
Trump needs to attract more women, African Americans, Latinos and college educated whites to his campaign. There’s two problems with that: he doesn’t know how to make convincing pitches to these voting blocks and he has offended most of the groups he needs to become president. He has only proven to rile up white nationalism, but every other demographic has eluded him to this point.
He is only viewed favorably by roughly 35 percent of the voting electorate and never broke over 40 percent in the Republican primaries. He must drag Clinton into the gutter with him and hope Wikileaks hackers can cast enough doubt on voter’s minds with their strategic leaks. Expect rumors and speculation about her to continue to swirl as the days count down, whether it’s about health or emails. Hey, maybe Hillary is in fact terminally ill like social media says and he wins by default, who knows! (probably not).
Clinton herself is not a perfect candidate and has her own flaws. She struggles with the media and comes across as stiff too often, seeming to illuminate shyness and contempt for media dealings. This is why she didn’t do many press conferences during the beginning of her campaign, though she’s addressed that issue as of late. Clinton doesn’t have Trump’s charisma when giving speeches and interviews, so she has to out-smart him head-to-head.
She’s off to a good start after destroying Trump in the first presidential debate. Trump came across as unprepared and unhinged at times, while she seemed to be in control and presidential. This won’t decide the election, but it helps establish how the public views both candidates as the election nears in November. She baited him with criticism into responding unkindly, as well as interrupting her upwards of 51 times during the debate.
When it comes down to policies and problem-solving, Clinton is head-and-shoulders above her opponent. It only makes sense that someone who is a former lawyer, first lady, two-term senator and secretary of state is more knowledgeable about government than a celebrity businessman. No one can honestly argue she isn’t more qualified than Trump. In the same decade that Trump illegally denied housing to minorities, Clinton was going undercover to help de-segregate schools in the South.
So when you hear that “this election sucks, they’re both horrible” just realize that this perspective is based on emotion and not facts.