I can safely say that the upcoming Presidential election in the United States of America between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is the most interesting and critical of my lifetime. I thought nothing could beat the race between the potential first black President versus the first female President back in 2008, but I was wrong. The choice facing Americans in November is much more daunting.
Let’s start with Clinton (because let’s face it, Trump is too easy to talk about). Her campaign, while positive and contemporary, is also immensely idealistic. Her campaign slogan, #I’mWithHer, gives the impression that she will be able to shatter glass ceilings if in the Oval Office – which of course she might. But I’m sceptical about the truth and logic behind such hopefulness when I look at Obama. Being the first black President of the United States did very little to enhance the lives of ordinary black citizens, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement that erupted during his time in power shows that idealism has no place in politics. It is important to have a political figure that has such a passion for the equality of society, which I am not condemning, but I do think that politics in America is not as open as we may hope (which I’ll come onto later).
Despite her solid political experience, there are still questions on whether she is qualified to run a country (but when you see people worry about her abilities next to those of her opponent, that’s disturbing). We all know about her email scandal, yet I am undecided as to whether this means she is unfit to be President or prone to mistakes like any other human – just ask her husband. If we put this incident aside then she is prepared; not only does she know how the system works but also has first hand experience dealing with domestic and international affairs.
Now, Trump. Most people can see that Trump is a joke, but the frightening part of his whole campaign is not what he’s saying, but just how much support it has generated. He has managed to offend ethnic minorities, women, his own party, and even condoned the use of gun violence against his opponent. I have no good words or balanced argument to legitimise Donald Trump as a politician in any way, and it is really worrying that so many people within American society agree with what he says. His successful campaign so far has highlighted just how regressive America is.
One thing does ease my mind slightly, and that is the smoke and mirrors that make up the American political system. The system fools people into thinking that the President has limitless power, which is untrue because of the Congressional and Senate structures. This is a key point for American voters to remember, and everyone else around the world watching from afar. Trump’s campaign has been centred on hoping to segregate the nation. Hope does motivate change, but he would not be able to do half the things he’s proposed if he made it into the Oval Office. There are examples throughout history of Presidents failing to carry out their plans because of Congress and the Senate: from Franklin D. Roosevelt and the ‘New Deal’ up to Barack Obama and ‘Obamacare’. This was my previous point about Clinton: her ideas are refreshing but the realism of practise is not a given, should she make it into the White House.
Both candidates have highlighted the long, long way America has to go for equality and fair representation, despite their self-proclamations of being the holy grail of democracy. Clinton and Trump running against each other shows how many problems still exist within Western politics. They have both shown their many weaknesses; if we’re not hearing about Clinton’s security scandals or insulting voters, we have Trump calling for the “extreme vetting” of those who identify with Islam. This election has so far exposed the United States for having a shaky political platform, and whatever the outcome in November, the 2016 Presidential Election has done lasting damage on the political progression of America.