Today, Donald Trump stormed back into the presidential debate, and his motto was attack from the get go. Injured from the first debate, when Clinton came up trumps ( no pun intended), Trump had to let it rip , which he did. Both presidential candidates traded blows on each other from, Clinton raising the sex audio tapes to Trump raking her husband’s sexual philandering in the past . The debate was as aggressive in tenor and tone as one would have expected. But beyond the noise and hype one should take note of the following points that has shaped the presidential race this time around.
Trump is back and Clinton is defensive: Trump was seen mostly on the attack and many times Clinton had to admit that she couldn’t raise issues during the debate because of the mud being flung on her by Trump. Trump clobbered her with her personal scandal of deleting classified emails after a subpoena from the USA congress. All the democrat candidate had to reply was a defensive apology. Trump also took full advantage of the fact that Clinton represented incumbent government and spared no efforts in tearing into the government for legacy issues like medical insurance and her policy decisions in Syria. She was also castigated for the Iran nuclear deal in which USA promised aid worth 150 billion dollars and and a sizable component in cash for a recalcitrant Iran’s co-operation.Clinton already on the defensive, could only raise a 2005 tape where Trump made some misogynistic comments, for which he too apologized. In the end the deciding third debate will be held in Las Vegas on October,19.
America is still divided : Never has America been polarized on racial lines as has been the case in these polls. On one side we have Clinton who espouses, old school administration attitude which sidelines white males, favors blacks (justifiably), and has a clandestinely soft attitude towards minorities like Muslims and Hispanics. On the other side we have Trump, who wants to revive the traditional white votebank, using jobs and a healthy smattering of Islamophobia, one which America steadfastly denies.It’s not very easy to unite the American masses, barring a blowout event like war or a depression. As R Jagganathan writes in his piece, “From the Tea Party to born-agains and neocons at the extreme Right of the Republican party to the Bernie Sanders-led Left of the Democratic party, American ideology is once again splintering. This time it is going beyond the normal Left-Right, Conservative-Liberal divisions of the past. The rise of Trump, who has drawn some votes both from the Left and Right, is an indication that even the two national parties are not able to bridge the gulf between different Americas. America is splintering beyond Red and Blue too”
Parallels between 2016-USA AND 2014-India: One can’t help but notice uncanny similarities between USA presidential campaign of 2016 to India’s general elections held in 2014. One, we have on one side the ultimate insider in Clinton against the disrupter in Trump. This compares rather well with our case where Congress battled Modi Led BJP for leadership in the lower house of the parliament Two, Clinton wants to remain politically correct , wooing one section of the voters and ostensibly ignoring the old white bastion, and hence a reverse polarization is very much on the cards against her . This again is similar to the consolidation of the Hindu vote, also seen as a blowback against belligerent crony minoritarianism practiced by the Congress against the Hindu majority. Three, the incumbents have not exactly covered themselves in glory over handling of the economy and foreign policy decisions. This was one of the main reasons why people were simply fed up of a decade of alleged misrule and voted Modi in. Fourth, Clinton is the ultimate insider (being the wife of EX-USA President Bill Clinton) and the allegation of corruption will remain for the time to come. No amount of slick talking will make people realize that she would be different from her husband Bill. This is how Indians rejected Gandhis outright, relegating them to a mere 44 seats in parliament.
Media role in the polls: Media is always a player in any high power elections. This is no different this time around. A huge section of American media has been busy painting Trump as the devil incarnate. From raking past recordings and videos exposing his true predilections, it’s fairly obvious that the media has been relatively Trump-phobic than it is towards Clinton. It tends to catch Trump for the slightest of missteps and tends to whitewash democrat sins. What’s kosher on one side is untouchable on the other . One cannot help but draw parallels to what the media did on their organized witch hunt against Modi at the height of poll fever in India.
Political correctness in the dustbin: Finally this election has seen the shedding of political correctness in the run up to the presidential poll. No longer do we have, democrats preaching esoteric democratic values like liberty , equality and free speech, but see them openly pandering to various pressure groups in the polity. We also do not have republicans preaching only right-wing economics on the fly, but have them expose America’s dirty little secrets of racism, anti- multiculturalism and amplify the FOMO (fear of missing out) among the white populace. The mud-slinging was clear during the debate when little policy was discussed , but candidates left no stone un-turned in washing each other’s dirty laundry in public. It’s as raucous of a campaign as it can get and its bound to get nastier. Trump easily gives an opportunity to masses to vent their spleen against factors like falling birth-rates among Whites, globalization, eroding work ethic, high indebtedness and a growing multiculturalism. As per this article in Swarajya, “….this shows is that Americans are substantially bigoted, and possibly even more so than some Islamic countries. And the reason why Americans are unhappy with Trump may not be that he is bigoted, but that his bigotry is now showing up the underlying bigotry of many Americans that they were earlier able to conceal under layers of sophisticated language and political correctness. If the world’s most powerful country has 25 percent holding illiberal views that border on bigotry, we know that prejudice and racism are alive and kicking in the US of A.”
So the world’s oldest democracy has to devise new ways to hide its racist underbelly. It would be foolish to believe otherwise.