The last 12 months have been the craziest I have ever seen in my 5 years of following US politics. We have seen two of the most unpopular major party candidates, one a reality TV star and rogue businessman, pitted against another inhibited by her gender and various accompanying scandals, on the verge of the White House. The fact that we could see our first Female President brushed aside by scandals and soundbites has turned this election into more of a shouting match than ever before. In this article I’ll be taking you underneath the surface and past the headlines of Election 2016.
One word has been synonymous with this election cycle and that word has been scandals. So lets start with Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton, whose scandals have been well covered and scrutinised by even the FBI. The biggest scandal surrounding Clinton is from when she served as Secretary of State, where she used her private family email to receive and send official communications, rather than the formal Secretary of State email account. While using a private server account is not illegal, many opp0nents see her actions as something worse than just malpractice. Polls have indicated that trust in Clinton had dropped to 36% in the aftermath of the scandal, supported by demands by opponents that Clinton’s actions warrant detention and imprisonment. However, Clinton is not the first or even only current politician to use this practice. In addition to adamant opponents to her, for instance Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, her current successor as Secretary of State, John Kerry, is culpable of the same crime. Yet when the FBI investigated the issue, they found that while Clinton was undoubtedly careless, they were unable to find a case that would support criminal charges, although Clinton’s vocal opponents have not refrained from repeatedly dragging the scandal through the mud.
Similarly, Clinton’s second major scandal also stems from her time as Secretary of State, and regards her role in the 2012 Benghazi Embassy Attack, where four Americans were killed. While at the time eight congressional investigations concluded that the State Department could have done more to increase security at the embassy, Clinton herself was not found to have committed any personal wrongdoing. Yet this has not stopped this scandal becoming a political tool for Clinton’s opponents, and criticisms have been levelled against Clinton’s foreign policy, in addition to the Democratic nominee being branded a murderer. What has been Clintons strength in this election however has been the fact she is the most experienced candidate of our time. She is a former first lady, senator and secretary of state and now presidential nominee, and this just might save her in the election when she goes up against Trump.
Meanwhile Donald J. Trump’s campaign has endured a whirlwind of scandals. From his opening statement about immigrants coming from Mexico and his ‘wall’ policy, to how he has conducted himself under pressure, to delve into all of his scandals and would take up the space of this entire magazine. His name calling has often been focused on lying, whether direct at ‘lyin’ Ted Cruz or lying Hillary Clinton. Yet when Politifact checked both candidates statements of the years they only found 13% of Clinton’s to be completely false, while comparatively 53% of Trumps’ statements were found to be completely false.
Perhaps the most serious scandal following Trump from day one has been his finances. He is the first candidate in 30 years not to release his tax returns and claims the reason for this has been the fact he is currently being audited for 2 to 3 years. Such sporadic audits would grant Trump enough time to be elected president first but this is completely false, and has lead the IRS to release a statement telling Trump that he actually can release them despite his audit as they are completely unrelated. Similarly, his unknown business dealings both at home and internationally could set an unprecedented ethical dilemma. Normally a president puts their assets into a blind trust under the care of independent person. Trump has claimed he would do this, but leaving his children in charge of the company is not only shady but shows a complete lack of understanding of a basic principle.
So where has this huge support come from? He is the equivalent of the Brexit vote in America. He has found a disenfranchised pulse, can whip them into a frenzy and send them to the polls. He can tap into white america and rely on them to be his main support group. As well as the GOP’s fall from grace, evidenced by many respectable politicians endorsing him, Trump has been able to pick up some Sanders or Never Hillary supporters along the way. His campaign has been clever as much as it has been openly abrasive.
As it stands 3rd party candidates are not welcome at the Presidential debates. Gary Johnson is the closest candidate to them on around 13%, so Clinton and Trump may well be the only real choices for President come election day in November. However the result could well depend on numerous factors: Can Trump rely on a limited demographic? Can Clinton rally the Never Trump troops and convince them to vote for her? And just how many votes will 3rd party or no-votes take away from each candidate? There may only be weeks left but there is still a long way to go.