The run-up to the 2016 US Presidential Elections has been extremely exciting, replete with humor, emotional outbursts, startling revelations, sincere appeals, and social media wars. The primary reason for such unprecedented showdown is the contrasting nature of Presidential candidates of the Democratic and the Republican parties. Where on one hand, there is a woman taking on a highly patriarchal society and political arena of the United States, on the other hand, there is a businessman without any prior government or military experience. One commonality between the two candidates is that both have been extremely vocal and opinionated all through their campaigns. This has made it an even more fascinating battle.
A study in contrast
Hillary Clinton is not a novice in the field of politics in general and electoral politics in particular. As the First Lady of the United States when her husband Bill Clinton was President, she worked on the creation of State Children’s Health Insurance Program. She became the first female Senator from New York in 2001. Her political career saw an upward surge when she was the US Secretary of State from 2009-2013.
After winning the Democratic primaries, Clinton accepted her party?s nomination as the Presidential candidate from her party and announced Tim Kaine as her running mate. Her campaign emphasized on raising incomes, improvements to the Affordable Care Act and reform of campaign finance. She favors allowing pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Clinton has also spoken about expanding and protecting the rights of women as also of the LGBT community.
Clinton?s campaign has not steered clear of controversies. The leaked emails that were released by WikiLeaks sparked off a debate on whether the Democratic Party, that is supposed to be neutral, favored Hillary over Bernie Sanders during the primaries campaign. This led to the Chair of the Democratic National Convention Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepping down.
After the New York Times reported on March 2, 2015 that Mrs. Clinton used a home-based email server while serving at the State Department, her campaign had waited as many as 525 days to formulate a consistent public response. Yet there was no plausible explanation for such act, and at times Clinton?s statements were inconsistent. This has raised many an eyebrow on her integrity and transparency.
Nevertheless, Hillary has managed to not just create a support base, but also widen it in the last few months. A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll is the latest to show Clinton surging to a big lead in the presidential race. And a large reason for that is that Democrats have quickly rallied to her cause.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, enjoys support among the Conservatives and the white working class whose face stiff competition from the influx of immigrant workers. Those who are skeptical about what the future holds for them, in terms of employment and security are expected to vote for Trump.
After Trump?s nomination as the Presidential candidate of the Republican Party, minorities and immigrants are apprehensive of whether they would be able to live a life of security and dignity in the US. This includes Muslim Americans, who have been at the receiving end of Trump?s inflammatory speeches. While condemning the surge of terrorism that threatens the world order today, Trump has time and again refereed to ?Islamic terrorism? and even proposed the banning of entry into the US for the practitioners of the faith. In what is being a strong ?identitarian? campaign, Trump has made it clear that racial and ethnic identities are definitive aspects of his bid for the White House. By painting a picture of an aggrieved white population which has been made to suffer in their own country by the non-whites, he has capitalized on the anti-immigration sentiments of the whites. However, such statements continue to alienate other groups including Hispanics, African Americans and Muslim Americans.
Trump has also been overtly sexist in his remarks and behavior over the course of his campaign. In the first Republican debate, which was hosted by Fox News and moderated by Megan Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace, Kelly was the antagonist he focused on. It wasn?t as if she was harder on Trump than any of her colleagues. But Trump made his opinion of Kelly quite clear, when he retweeted a follower who said she was “a bimbo” and that she had “blood coming out of her ? wherever.”
In another instance, after Carly Fiorina challenged him in a debate, Trump said to Rolling Stone, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
He did not spare his opponent in the elections from his misogynist remarks. When Hillary Clinton needed to take a bathroom break during a debate, Trump told the crowd, “It’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.”
In what can be seen as an attempt to undo the years of struggle women in the US have made to gain abortion rights, Trump has been vocal about his anti-abortion stance. He has voiced that the Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion should be overturned. He even hinted at punishments to be meted out to women to undergo abortion, once it is made illegal. It took intensive protests for Trump to reverse his statement and clarify that the intended punishments would be for doctors and not for women undergoing abortion.
Trump has time and again revealed the intolerant, racist, and sexist side of himself. If the White House gates open for him, it is a dangerous sign for the world.
In a world where tolerance, harmony and a united fight with global terrorism is the need of the hour, the course that US politics takes this November is crucial to the future prospects of the entire world order.
A Common Challenge for Both Candidates
Whether it is Trump or Clinton, the next occupant of the White House will have a tough task ahead. The new President will face the daunting challenge of being compared to current President, Barack Obama, who enjoys immense public confidence and international reputation. His conduct of foreign affairs has been appreciated by most major powers of the international political arena. Even as the world?s most powerful head of the government, he is considered to have a human face, which goes down very well with all communities. His successor will not only have to take America further in terms of economic prosperity and domestic security but also increase the stronghold of the US on international relations.
– Contributed by Anushna, a Student of Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science
Picture Credits: cnn.com