Most observers and historians of the political scene would agree that this election has no precedence. Few would agree on what makes this political season so tragically unique. First, both parties delivered the most improbable candidates to the highest office in our land; candidates who should never have passed the pre-primary stage of the election process. This statement assumes that observers, analysts, and commentators employ a rational predisposition and bias free attitude while analyzing the 2016 campaign. Second, the level of public discourse has, in recent years, reached frightening levels. The responsibility for this highly lamentable state of affairs is evenly distributed among most of the players - participants in our political process and the media. The sins of mass media are well known and documented. They range from sensationalism to ineptness in both reporting and commentary. Moreover, “news organizations” in this election cycle dropped the last, however thin, veil of impartiality and objectivity.
Trump is guilty of many blanket pronouncements unbecoming of a political figure on most stages. Clinton’s campaign is implicated in the deployment of tactics that make Nixon’s “dirty tricks” child’s play (Creamer, Foval, Woodhouse). Consequently, public debate instead of focusing on profound issues facing our nation and the world is preoccupied with – on the one hand; groping, lewd remarks, and insensitive statements. On the other hand, vulgar and insensitive comments, tax returns, number of business bankruptcies, and morality of tax deductions. The last item was a subject of a recent article in the New York Times enumerating how much public good could have been accomplished if Trump’s businesses did not take tax deductions! Once again, this is a shining example of how many in our media are working hard to elect Hillary.
On a far more serious level, what makes this election particularly important is the state and shape of our country and the world in which American political, economic, and cultural power plays a critically important role. The almost eight years of the Obama presidency have, across the board, little to show for.
On the economic front, the pain experienced daily by the shrinking middle class is well known and documented. The affluent hear voices advocating more and more taxation of all kinds coming from all levels of government. Obama enlarged the national debt by an unimaginable seven trillion dollars. The “war on poverty” celebrating six decades and trillions of dollars have little to show for as the poor are growing in numbers. Where did the money go? The U.S. military - at a time when safety and national security are very much in the forefront of public concern – has been greatly downsized. Many procurement programs were put on hold or canceled, and troop levels significantly reduced. The power grid, highways, waterways, or bridges all need massive infusion of capital. Public infrastructure has not benefited from Obama’s trillions. Furthermore, an out of control immigration situation brings serious concerns to many voters. The Obama presidency not only did very little to improve race relations – it contributed to a climate of conflict, mistrust and fueled the grievance industry greatly, adding a great deal of anxiety and pain. Cultural wars of different sorts continue to divide American society.
Terrorist attacks, the Middle East in bloody chaos; Putin reviving Russia’s imperial ambitions (Ukraine); not to mention North Korea or China, and many other hot spots across the globe, do not paint a rosy picture. Obama gifted Iranian lunatics not only with billions of dollars but effectively open the door for them to acquire nuclear weapons. All these issues, to one degree or another, are of serious concern and contribute to highly elevated levels of chaos and disorder in the international arena.
These are good reasons for the public to pay attention to who will lead the country on domestic and international fronts. Yet the leading parties presented an impossible choice by nominating candidates unfit for public office, not to mention, the U.S. Presidency.
Trump’s lack of political experience is a minor issue in comparison to him not having well thought out and articulated philosophical positions on most of the principal issues facing our country and the world. He offers slogans and vague, broad and repetitive statements, thus betraying a lack of deep and broad command of many important subjects or issues. Moreover, there is little evidence that Trump can and wants to learn. There is also ample data pointing to serious character issues that his statements and actions revealed. Among them, speaking without thinking; combativeness for the sake of winning; and propensity to exaggerate, portraying a personality that does not inspire a great deal of confidence. Trump’s use of crude and rude remarks as well as vulgarities does not deserve any comments!
Clinton, a career politician, suffers from a very poor career record, both as New York Senator and Secretary of State, spanning over thirty years. She has been embroiled in many scandals (Whitewater, Travelgate, Lewinsky, Benghazi, The Clinton Foundation, etc..) which for any other politician would mean the end of their political career. Moreover, character issues speak for themselves: a long list of glaring and shameless lies coupled with duplicity. Clinton’s deceit is best illustrated by her self-proclaimed role as a “champion of women’s issues.” Hillary defended her husband’s well known and well documented sex scandals taking place in Arkansas, the White House, and in Chappaqua. Not only that she stands by her husband, Hillary viciously attacked women who made all sorts of statements about her husband’s actions. She actively participated in a public farce when the former president appeard in front of the camera - angrily and repeatedly denying any improper involvement with his intern, Monica Lewinsky. It was Hillary – self proclaimed champion of feminism - who for years tolerated Bill’s behavior classified by most women, not to mention feminists or progressives, as deplorable and beneath any self-respecting women. It is well documented that the Clinton Foundation accepted tens of millions of dollars from the most oppressive abusers of human rights! Duplicity and farce; avarice and shamelessness are at full view.
Yet, for Clinton, it seems, basic moral principles do not exist or matter. What matters to Clinton is the utility and advantages that power, lies, and dirty money provide. It is mind boggling that the pundits do not see what is so obvious and transparent. Indeed, it is beyond comprehension that anyone, not mention women, would want this individual to be a historical figure – first American female president!
How is it possible that voters of this cultural and economic superpower are left with candidates who possess credentials that would barely meet the standard suitable for a mediocre “banana republic” president? The real, important question then, is how did we get here? What happened to our ability to think rationally and objectively? Indeed, what happened to our culture? These questions - of paramount significance for the future of our republic - are for another day. In the meantime, we face a real Cornelian dilemma - we know that on November 8th either Clinton or Trump will win… and the rest of us will lose!
ELECTION DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the articles herein are solely those of each respective author. The Counterweight does not endorse or support any particular candidate; we simply provide a forum for students to share thoughts that are not typically expressed here at Bucknell...especially by the professors.