The 2016 Election is Disheartening

Writing has not been something that I have done much of lately. It certainly hasn’t been because of a lack of possible content: world politics has certainly been incredibly interesting, arguably perhaps a little too interesting. Only lack of time can prevent me from blogging. But even with this lack of time, however, the second presidential debate and the events of the weekend has compelled me to write a post- even if it has to be brief.

I have been constantly amazed by the twists and turns of the 2016 election. It seems to me that whenever you think that things seriously cannot get any worse, they really do get worse. Every week and month brings the level of civil discourse lower and lower, and continually demeans the entire process of running for the presidency in the United States. And it would be one thing if the only country affected by the presidential election were the United States itself; instead, the choice that American voters make on November 8 will have global repercussions. The world’s attention is focused on the election.

So it is a shame that the two major party candidates running this year have made a complete mockery of the democratic process in the United States, in the full glare of global spotlight. Of course, one is more at fault than the other. Hillary Clinton suffers from clear character defects, whether it be dishonesty or paranoia. But they pale in comparison to the absolutely monstrous flaws of Donald Trump. This debate was a full case study in why Donald Trump is utterly unqualified to become president:

  • Donald Trump has absolutely no sense of decency. This was clear enough from the sex boast tapes that emerged over the weekend, but the fact that Donald Trump chose to double down on his insistence that they were merely “locker room talk” and brought Bill Clinton’s rape accusers to the debate after holding a press conference with them. Trump needs to remember which Clinton that he is running against, and exposing another man’s flaws does not clear his own shortcomings. All this does is demonstrate that he has no sense of decency. He is a man completely bereft of morals or ethics.
  • Donald Trump is a threat to democracy. His conversation with Clinton about her role as senator, and his threat to jail her, shows that he has no understanding of the separation of powers of government. This is the talk of a would-be dictator in a banana republic, not of an American presidential candidate.
  • Donald Trump has still managed to demonstrate no grasp at all of policy. He still does not know what he is talking about. His factual inaccuracies- or perhaps, more accurately, lies- show that he has not bothered to learn even the basics of policy. Such political illiteracy should not be demonstrated in any political candidate, let alone one running for president.

That politics should sink so low is heartbreaking. Politics should be about the clash of ideas and of ideologies, of competing visions for the country. In this election, it has devolved into a mass of disgusting mudslinging. One story that strikes out to me is from a comment I read on Reddit the day after the Trump tapes were released. A father related a story of how his six-year-old daughter, after watching the news together, had asked him: “what does ‘grab them by the p**sy’ mean?” Another parent commented on how he could not watch the presidential debate with his children.

This is not what politics should be like. The fact that this is happening in the world’s foremost example of democracy is completely mind-boggling. What example does this set for other countries?

Trump’s candidacy also begs another question, however: what does it say of American society? What does the fact that he is still polling at forty-something percent mean? Even in this hyper-partisan environment, why are voters still willing to accept this man as president despite such obvious flaws of character and of judgement? Perhaps we like to pretend that we live in a progressive world. But the truth is that voters are still more than willing to overlook such blatant racism and sexism as Donald Trump’s. And finally, how can America continue to preach democracy and the value of the electoral process when this process has resulted in a madman being a heartbeat away from the nation’s presidency? That a man so unqualified to be president is only a few steps away from the White House is nothing less than an indictment of the entire democratic process. It is a question that deserves to be pondered deeply.

The 2016 election has been entertaining, yes. But it has also been disheartening in a way that no one could have imagined. Although, perhaps, we were just too naive to think things wouldn’t turn out this way since the day Trump descended on an escalator in Trump Tower to call Mexicans rapists.

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