The long and winding road to the White House has led us to the National Conventions; the end is in sight but there is still a long way to go. From eventful speeches to the announcements of the Vice-Presidential candidates there is plenty to cover before we dive into the final stretch of the campaign.
Kicking things off with the Republican side of the aisle, last week saw the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio and it was not without controversy. The keynote speeches which are the highlight of every National Convention in the US was the centre of controversy this year. From Melania Trump’s curiously familiar speech to Ted Cruz being booed for not endorsing Donald Trump (despite Trump himself hearing it hours in advance and not wishing to change a word of it). It all stunk of a poorly managed convention from a team trying to make their man the manager of the entire nation. But Melania and Cruz have been covered heavily in the media and there is even a article on this very site about the RNC if you wish to hear about it in more detail.
What I will be covering on the Republican side however has been, in comparison, severely overlooked. During the event last week it was revealed by Kasich’s campaign that Donald Trump’s team was prepared to offer him the Vice-Presidential spot with the offer that would make him the most powerful VP in American History. Supposedly the offer was that Kasich would be in charge of all Foreign & Domestic policy while Trump would be in charge of ‘Making America Great Again’. The Trump campaign has stood their ground and denied this while Kasich’s Campaign still stand by the claim. While this has most likely been overlooked due to its unconfirmed nature, it’s not too hard to believe is it?
We are talking about a man who has beaten out some major names for the Republican nomination, changed the face of the US political map, is the most unpopular candidate for POTUS in history and has charged racial tensions across the nations – all without laying out any real concrete policy and flip-flopping on major issues throughout his campaign and public life. It would not be hard to imagine that Trump wants the Presidency for the fame and title as opposed to the hard work and change needed to be President. It is also curious how Trump and his ideals do not match the ethos of the Republican party of upholding the constitution and limited government action but does match the hardcore grass roots. Much like Brexit he is playing on peoples fear and anger to get to the top. His motivations are winning and “making America…” something whether that be great, strong, or safe “Again”. He is appealing to peoples feelings rather than the facts, something highlighted by John Oliver on his show Last Week Tonight. He is, however, not the only person to use this tactic in the upper ranks of the Republican party. The GOP elephants look a lot different to the days of Mitt Romney let alone Reagan or Lincoln.
However, Trump’s actual Vice President is more traditional Republican than The Donald and is actually the only boring thing about his campaign. Mike Pence is the Governor of Indiana and is seen as more socially conservative than Trump and has previously disagreed with him on his proposed Muslim ban, tweeting that ‘calls to ban Muslims from entering the US are offensive and unconstitutional’. Although, Trump said of those he had interviewed for the job, ‘nobody..agrees with me fully on everything’. Pence is popular with Christian conservatives, who were an important demographic for Cruz, and could help rally party loyalists behind the Trump campaign ahead of November’s election.
Clinton and the Democrats have also had a uncomfortable time recently. The RNC has given Trump a bump in the polls placing above Hillary. Clinton, who is the second most disliked candidate in history, has however been cleared of criminal action of her email scandal but still struggles with public image. She is still seen as untrustworthy and too close to the line for some people to consider voting for her. Hillary is facing issues within her own party due to the popularity of her former rival Bernie Sanders. Leaked emails from Wikileaks show that some within DNC led by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz were actively working against the Senator from Vermont which has been the worst kept secret in the United States in the last year.
However, it is important to note that only 20 emails out of thousands sent regarding the DNC were incriminating. Nevertheless, the contentious figure of Wasserman-Schultz stepped down as Chair over the scandal. Little too late for Bernie supporters. It is these fans themselves who have caused the biggest issues for Clinton more specifically those in the Bernie or Bust camp. Despite Sanders himself strongly backing Clinton there are still those who want to see their man on the ticket come November.
This discord gives Trump an easy attack route over the next few months with Hillary struggling to unite these grassroots democrats who will be potentially vital on polling day. The Democratic National Convention is still ongoing but speeches from Sanders, Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren have been met with choruses of ‘Bernie’ as much as they have been met with applause.
It is a sticky issue and one that could have potentially been fixed with the appointment of Warren, seen as the second most progressive democrat after Sanders, as Clinton’s Vice Presidential candidate however it seems that an all female ticket was not to be the case. Because, after much speculation between several candidates including Warren, Hillary announced her running mate as Tim Kaine. A safe, predictable, Joe Biden-esque candidate for VP. A self-described ‘boring’ Southern Democrat from Virginia who opposes abortion personally as a Catholic but remains fairly liberal on most social issues.
More importantly, Kaine comes from a key battleground state that Hillary Clinton must win in November to get to the White House in a classic running mate move. Much like Clinton herself, he is a very much an over qualified candidate being one of only 20 people in US history to have served as a mayor, governor and senator during his career. He’s a very popular figure within the Democrat party, was a candidate in 2008 to be Obama’s man and was said to be the preferred choice of Bill Clinton for his wife running mate. He is a safe pair of hands and knows US politics better than most. A very smart, shrewd choice from the would be first female president. One that potentially could see her move to D.C.
In potentially interesting news, the race between the two most disliked candidates for President in US History has opened to door to third party candidates. And the only one who is on the ballot in all 50 states is Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson. A man who describes his platform as ‘fiscally conservative, socially liberal’ has seen his stock rise higher than it did in the 2012 election. The former Republican (2011) and Governor of New Mexico (95-03) has been polling at an unprecedented 11%, which puts him in touching distance of the required 15% in the national polls to appear in the officially televised debates between the Democrat and Republican nominees. To highlight how significant that 11% actually is Johnson received 0.99% of the popular vote, a total of 1,275,971 votes in the 2012 election.
The Libertarian Party traditionally drew votes from Republicans, with both Johnson and his running mate former Governor of Massachusetts Willian Weld being ex-Republicans. Recently, however, it has been drawing more and more from Clinton and the Democrats and could even potentially win the vote of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. They hold core beliefs for both Republicans such as limited Gun Control and fiscal conservative ideals and Democrats on legalising same-sex marriage and similar issues as well as more liberal minded policies on abortion and drug use. Johnson who describes himself as a classical Liberal is the best shot for a third party president this election and the closest we have seen in generations. I for one hope that Johnson manages to reach the 15% required as it would be certainly interesting to see him alongside Clinton and Trump and would be a huge change in dynamics for US Politics.
And that is it for this brief round up of everything Presidential, make sure to keep your eye on Wessex Scene for more on this highly unusual race for the White House.