Making Sense of this US Election

 

An  election to choose the US president comes every four years by law, but the 2016 US presidential election has not been a normal one. It has been an unusual election in many ways. It has been a particularly intense, bitter, and troubled election. It has been one in which both candidates are among the most unpopular in recent American history, according to polls. Both accuse each other of being unfit for office and one even threatens to send the other to jail. The election is plagued by fears of interference from another country, Russia, which allegedly hacked into Democratic computer servers.  One candidate and his supporters allege that there is widespread voter fraud. Trump says he may contest the election result if he loses. There have been constant protests and violence, including the firebombing of one of the party’s headquarters,  as well as the fear of violence after the election. As Election Day neared, several scandals broke out that influenced the race on short notice, turning the tide back and forth. Finally, one of the two main contenders in this election is a most unusual and controversial candidate in both his personal character and his political policies and his gaining the office of presidency promises to bring many radical changes that are deeply controversial. As a result, America suffers from a combination of uncertainty, pessimism, despair, and fear in one of the nation’s wildest elections ever.

What is badly needed is for sense to be made of this election and the many issues that concern and afflict it, such as Russians, immigration, hacking, emails, Islamophobia, allegations, protests, deplorables, pneumonia, Billy Bush. The focus must primarily be on the two people one of who is destined to be the president. This is my analysis of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Trump is by far the more controversial candidate. Yet, he is also very popular. With roughly half the American populace supporting him and half opposing him, one may say that he is a particularly polarizing candidate. Those who support him do so with great rigor and those who oppose him do so with equal rigor. It is quite amazing that Trump is still so popular despite his innumerable shortcomings. One wonders how popular he would be if his tongue was not so loose. Trump’s main problem may be his lack of political experience and having lived as a billionaire who is used to getting everything he wants. When he is hosting a reality show, he can offend anyone and say, “you’re fired,” but when running for president, you have to win the support of the entire nation and contend with a great deal of scrutiny. Trump does not have the self-restraint necessary and has still not yet learned to attain it, perhaps because it does not hurt him all that much.

What Donald Trump really hates is being criticized. When this happens, he criticizes back harder, often making attacks on the person which create controversy. The worst is the feud with the Muslim parents of a US soldier who died in the Iraq War and who blasted him for his proposal to enact a temporary ban on Muslim immigration at the Democratic National Convention.

His response to the Gold Star family did contain some respect. But among other things, he brought anti-Islam views into the question when he implied that the mother was not allowed to speak. And his last point was the most unintelligent, the sacrifices that he had made. Apparently, Trump does not know that the word “sacrifice” means giving up what one wants in order to advance a higher purpose and instead thinks it means doing good things for other people.

Trump’s biggest problem now is the sexual harassment and assault issue. Among all the criticism of Trump which may not necessarily be trusted, the video provides proof to the people of Trump having harbored unsavory views. It seems he is bragging about committing sexual assault. One has to closely examine those words, which he spoke as part of socializing with the entertainment crew he was working with. What he was saying is that when he kisses women, they let him do it, which is consent, though they may not have given it beforehand. Trump did not exactly say that he grabbed women’s genitals, only that you can do it if you are a star. But I believe that Trump was not socially influenced by Billy Bush or anybody else to say such things and that the tape gives us an insight into his character.

The worst thing about the video is that, besides inspiring the allegations that Trump did what he bragged about, it gave credence to them. Presidential candidates are vulnerable to character assassination just as they are to physical assassination, which the Secret Service protects them from, so some anti-Trump interest could have paid all the women to accuse Trump of sexual assault. But since Trump accused Trump of sexual assault, they have quite something to back up their claims. Otherwise, the large number of the accusers does not mean much, given that the stakes are so high and half the country opposes Trump’s run. But a thorough investigation, not only into the allegations but how Trump has generally behaved, is needed, because we should should know if the man who we may vote into the White House has engaged in criminal and otherwise very nasty behavior.

Nevertheless, it may be that the only people who will ever know whether or not Trump committed harassment and assault against these women are Trump and the women themselves. If that is the case, since Trump’s conduct as president is what is of concern, we need to look at how he openly behaves and what his political views and policies are. It is not good on that front as far as women are concerned. He has frequently behaved in an objectifying manner towards women, although where he did it as a beauty pageant owner is to be rather expected. Some of the remarks he has made, such as, “There was blood coming out of her… whatever,” are of an ambiguous nature. And finally, when it comes to Trump’s gender policies, there isn’t much disconcerting besides his comment, that he backtracked on, that those who have abortions should be punished.

While Trump’s problem is that he has not had a prior political career, Hillary’s problem is that she does. Trump does not have to be scrutinized over any political misdemeanor.  When judging how good a president Clinton will be, one looks to her record as an officer of the state.  The issues she has been beset with dissuade people from choosing her for president. Basically, one has to mostly judge Trump by what he said and one can judge Clinton by what she did. Clinton’s controversies do not look nowhere near as severe as Trump’s. People are more likely to take to heart Trump’s attitude towards people, such as women and minorities, than such things as email usage, donations, and even managing attacks on consulates, which all seem like dull office banter. But if one of these issues carries the possibility of criminal indictment, it means Hillary may be impeached while president and it is better for the nation to not go through that.

Another thing which has become an issue for Clinton is her bodily integrity. Trump has somehow showed restraint and not gone after it very much, but Americans may not want a president who carries the possibility of giving a speech for half an hour and then collapsing on stage. There have been great presidents who have been in much worse health, though their issues were kept secret, and perhaps people would not have voted Roosevelt into office for a fourth time if they knew he would depart the World during its War 2. But Clinton’s health as an issue has faded away now.

I personally prefer Clinton to Trump. But to get subjective about, the main characterization of the two candidates is that Trump is the radical president. Clinton, a long-time politician, will keep things largely as they were during the Obama years and even as they generally are in America. Trump, on the other hand, will overhaul society, will implement radical policies, and will bring change. Whether the change is for better or for worse is both a matter of opinion and should be subject to careful scrutiny.

It has been a colorful race before these two nominees were decided. The number of people running in the election was very high, 17 people for the Republican Party. So, we have had Clinton and Trump contend with so many others, and it has had its share of memorable moments. One just wonders how people as unpopular as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won their party’s primaries. It seems all the others did not have their heart in the game, as they all quit except Bernie Sanders, who may not have a heart set in staying alive very much longer. It seems to be a rather down time for American politics.

Whatever is going on with the people in the race, one expects the race itself to function straight and smoothly. But America instead has suffered unexpected problems.  Democratic computers have come under cyber-intrusions that have been linked to Russia. Given that Trump is friendly towards Russia and Clinton is not, there are allegations that the Russians are trying to influence the US election, a severe violation of national sovereignty. On the domestic side, there have been protests pestering the Trump campaign, which has considered using violence in return. There are fears of violence after the election. There are also allegations by the Trump side of widespread voter fraud, and this fuels Trump’s suggestion that he will bring the election results to court if he loses. I believe this is all a sign of increasing turmoil in American society, which could persist after the election, both if Trump wins and if Clinton wins.

An unfortunate fact is that we cannot make sense of everything. Many of the issues the election is embroiled in have been of a secretive and unknown nature. One does not know the full truth of the new Clinton email matter, the FBI has still refused to disclose all that they know, one does not know if Trump was a sexual harasser, it is uncertain what hand the Russians may be playing, and allegations of voter fraud are unsubstantiated. This uncertainty is the worst part of the election. It makes Americans unsure if they can make the right choice. It makes them apprehensive of what is going to happen.

One final thing we need to understand what the future holds in store after the election. The upheaval of the election may not end with the election itself. If the man who was once just a prominent businessman of the nation takes the helm, we need to brace ourselves for great changes that will not come without turbulence. There is the possibility that Trump will be like Obama and not succeed very much at doing what he says. But it is more likely that Trump will be like Republican presidents typically have been and be successful at carrying out what he wants. And many others will carry out attempts to oppose him. If the woman who is a seasoned political wins, things may carry on as before, but it could be that the attitude in American society sparked by Trump’s campaign will live on and play a major role in the future. It may even impact Clinton’s administration.

In the end, as the campaign is over and Americans head to the polls, the one most important thing that we need to understand is that this election will decide not only the future of America but of the world. But another thing we need to understand is that change does not end at the voting booths and that each and every one of us can always continue to have a say in how society is run.

 

 

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