Photo credit: Michael Vadon (via Flickr)
With the election coming close Ause Abdelhaq questions if Donald can Trump Hilary.
Nobody expected Donald Trump to get this far. His resounding victory in the Republican primary came as a shock to most political commentators, especially as he was faced with some pretty impressive opposition – party darlings Marco Rubio and John Kasich, tea party enthusiast Ted Cruz and the early favourite, would-be-President Jeb Bush. However, as evidenced by poll numbers over the last three months, he has been more than a match for Hillary Clinton – a race that many would have called a walkover 14 months ago has proven to be a dead heat.
There are a number of reasons why Trump might do it. Firstly, since he announced his candidacy, American politics has only been about one thing: him. The bickering between his fellow candidates, the fight between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, and even the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – these have all been background acts in the Donald Trump show.
Secondly, since the beginning of her campaign, Hillary Clinton has been dogged with scandal – from her use of a private email server while acting Secretary of State, to the leaked DNC emails which prove a party bias against Bernie Sanders, to the shady actions of the Clinton Foundation. There has been no respite for the former First Lady, and a recent poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal found that only 31% of likely voters found her to be more trustworthy than Donald Trump. The same poll found that 44% of her supporters only supported her because they dislike her opponent – not exactly the raving approval which you want in a candidate for President. Whether it’s justified or not, the reality is that the majority of Americans do not like Hillary Clinton and, when it comes to polling day, that will only work in Trump’s favour.
Whether it’s justified or not, the reality is that the majority of Americans do not like Hillary Clinton and, when it comes to polling day, that will only work in Trump’s favour.
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that, despite all his extremism, brashness and arrogance, Donald Trump is still a “he.” As backwards as it sounds, the glass ceiling still very much exists for Hillary Clinton. For all her flaws, she is still forced to jump for more brass rings than any candidate in recent history. Take the recent debate as an example – Trump interrupted her on no less than 51 separate occasions over the course of the 90 minutes. Clinton, to her credit, kept to her mantra of “when they go low, we go high” and maintained a cool head, but the reality is that she had no choice in the matter. Had she reacted like a normal human being and shown anger or frustration, she would immediately have been branded as frantic and emotional – a disrespectful analysis that a male candidate would never have to deal with. A culture of sexism and misogyny still very much exists across the Atlantic, and the jury is still out as to whether Americans will trust a woman with the highest office in the land.
Of course, there are also arguments against Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office. Primarily, there are very few minorities remaining who Trump has not managed to offend. In fact, Trump has said so many things which alienate him from so many people, that it’s difficult to keep track – he has attacked Mexicans, Muslims, black people, veterans, Gold Star parents and, of course, women. He has managed to isolate himself from countless political groups, to the point where the real minority must be the people that he hasn’t offended. While this tactic of outright belligerence has worked for him to a certain degree, if he keeps going there won’t be anyone left to vote for him – and there’s an argument that the Washington Post video which has just been released might have been the tipping point. His comments in that clip from 2005 go beyond anything he has said before – they represent someone who isn’t just being misogynistic for the sake of it, but rather someone with no respect for women in the first place. The recording is impossible to discredit, which is probably why Trump came out with an immediate apology – the first time we’ve seen that in the entire election cycle.
Furthermore, Donald Trump’s policies are not established. For all his ranting and raving, an awful lot of the time he effectively says nothing at all. He certainly hasn’t set out recognised, measured plans. His performance in the first Presidential debate was embarrassingly transparent, and exposed how ill-prepared Trump is for the position. He was thoroughly out-argued by Clinton on every issue. Those who previously attempted to justify their support for him with rationalised arguments about his strong policy positions now find themselves stranded, and the fact that he’s not qualified becomes more difficult to ignore every day.
Also, although it is true that scandal has followed Clinton from the outset of her campaign, Trump hasn’t been without his disgraces either. The issue of tax returns has been a thorn in his side for almost a year now, and at this stage one has to wonder how bad they have to be for him to continue to refuse to release them – especially after the New York Times reveal his potential tax avoidance over the last 18 years. Allegations of sexual harassment on the set of his reality television show, The Apprentice, have emerged over the last couple of months, which dually serve to strengthen the claim that he’s unfit to be President and also ensure that he cannot attack Clinton for her husband’s infidelity, because he’s clearly just as bad. Perhaps most damaging to his campaign are the reports surrounding the Trump Foundation which allege that the charity primarily served to pay off Trump’s debts to high-earning creditors, and never helped anyone in need whatsoever.
Finally, there’s the argument that Donald Trump just doesn’t care about the presidency. Despite all her flaws, and the fact that few people actually like her, nobody can argue that Hillary Clinton doesn’t want the job she’s running for. She has dedicated most of her life to public service, serving as both First Lady and Secretary of State and 2016 marks the second time she’s put forward her candidacy for President. She has a determined stubbornness which, while grating to some, proves her commitment to the cause. Donald Trump, on the other hand, seems as though he’s in deeper than he thought he would swim. His lack of preparation for debates, his blasé attitude towards damning political scandals and his general aura of smugness indicate a man who liked the idea of becoming President, but never really thought it would happen.
The election on November 8th is the most important vote of the year – and whether you have an interest in American politics or not, the result will have a significant impact on the political spectrum across the globe. A victory for Trump will continue the momentum garnered by the Leave campaign in the UK, strengthen the campaigns of Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, and serve to further divide society and deconstruct global government. A victory for Clinton will mean a continuation of Barack Obama’s legacy, the retention of the White House by a political party for the first time in nearly half a century and, of course, the first female US President. In some ways, the vote isn’t just Republican versus Democrat, but rather a clash of ideologies which will determine global trends for the next four years.