It’s not too much of a stretch to say that this is one of the worst elections in United States history. Americans immensely dislike both candidates: according to Reuters, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s respective 55 percent and 62 percent disapproval ratings rank as the two highest in the six decades that presidential disapproval has been measured. What’s sad about these ratings is not so much the fact that they’re record-breaking, but more so that neither rating is even shocking. Both candidates are terrible – terrible people and politicians – and while one is clearly better than the other, it shouldn’t make us feel that much better, nor is it much of a compliment.
Roughly four years ago in early 2012, Donald Trump’s decision to run for the Republican presidential nominee was met with skepticism; his opposition often failed to take him seriously, assuming correctly that he would soon choose to continue hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC over politics. Yet even then, Trump drew large crowds, and took an early lead in the primaries; his current campaign has drawn even larger crowds, and has enjoyed surprising success with dissatisfied white voters. This same candidate was sued by the Department of Justice in 1973 for racist housing practices in New York City through Trump Management, due to blacks consistently being turned away for no reason other than race. Of course, he and the company settled with the government, and avoided repercussions and admission of guilt. Again, this is a presidential candidate – one calling for minorities to vote for him, not just whites.
Since then, he has gone bankrupt a total of four times while defrauding investors and short-handing small businesses of millions of dollars; accused President Barack Obama of being a “Muslim Kenyan” who did not possess a legitimate United States birth certificate – even after he produced one proving his birth in Hawaii; suggested that he would use a nuclear bomb on the Middle East to defeat ISIS; chose a disturbingly anti-LGBT governor as his Vice Presidential candidate; said that he would ban all Muslim immigrants from entering the country, and would enforce “tight security measures”; racistly mocked the Gold Star parents of slain Army captain Humayun Khan, killed by a 2004 bombing in Iraq; tweeted that he “appreciate[s] the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism” hours after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history left 50 dead in an Orlando gay nightclub; evaded taxes for nearly 20 years after reporting a supposed billion dollar loss to the IRS, continuously refusing to release his tax returns; and, most recently, was revealed to have bragged about committing alleged sexual assault in a leaked 2005 NBC video, where he described his proud misogyny, especially how he assaults women by freely “grabbing them by the p***y”. What’s truly sad about all of this is that this list does not even cover the majority of his negativity; what’s even worse is that the entirety of this list – save for the first two examples – all has occurred or was revealed during this campaign alone.
On the other hand, four years ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was forced to take responsibility for the deaths of four state department officials in a terrorist attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya by radical jihadists. Later, in early 2015, the New York Times reported that the Benghazi Committee – established by the House of Representatives to investigate the attack – discovered that Clinton had been using a private email server for classified government communications, and had suspiciously either withheld or wiped clean over 30,000 emails from said server. Clinton was therefore seen to be at fault for the four deaths, as she allegedly did not evacuate or provide increased security for the officials, who requested such assistance due to fear of an emergency in the already unstable region. Since then, WikiLeaks, along with suspected Russian hackers, have together leaked thousands of other emails from Clinton and the Democratic Party, leading to the resignation of the Party Chair due to revelations of apparent corruption during the primaries against Clinton’s popular opponent, Bernie Sanders.
In addition to this, her family-run Clinton Foundation has accepted money from both domestic and foreign wealthy donors who gained access to the State Department through meetings with her. This same foundation has also accepted millions of dollars in contributions from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the late 2000s – countries infamous for their deplorable conditions of women’s rights, and where homosexuality and sex outside of marriage are both (frequently) punished by death. As First Lady, she played a public role in her husband’s 1994 Crime Bill, which directly lead to the mass incarceration of young black men and women, and the growth of the corrupt for-profit prison industry – with lobbyists from whom Clinton still accepts six-figure “donations”; in support of this bill, Clinton referred to young inner-city black males as potential “super-predators” that needed to be “brought to heel”. On top of this, she has consistently taken six-figure payments for speeches at Wall Street banks, while simultaneously claiming that she is somehow all for the American people and a healthy economy.
In quite literally any other election, she would have long been out of the race, with her only chance of seeing herself in the White House again being through her old family photos. Yet, impressively, America still somehow managed to find a candidate in Donald Trump far worse than any other in recent memory. As somewhat of a saving grace for Clinton, she does at least have political experience, as both a New York Senator from 2001-2009, and as the Secretary of State from 2009-2013 – both positions for which she held high approval ratings. So while it is unlikely that much of anything will change for the better under a Hillary Clinton administration, that shouldn’t necessarily be a problem, as the country is doing fairly well in terms of economic growth and the state of its people. However, the main issue facing us today is sadly still civil rights and equality, especially now with Trump’s blatantly bigotry-based campaign highlighting the extent of many American’s underlying racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Again, despite the fact that Clinton by all means is a poor choice, that’s still inherently better than the absolutely awful choice Trump represents in this election. I’m with her, but not voluntarily, because I do not at all want to see what Donald Trump thinks “making America great” means.
It’s apparent as ever that America needs a political overhaul, and in turn proper, worthwhile, and actually desirable candidates for the presidency. Clearly, we’ll all have to wait another four years for that.