I remember telling my friend, in the kitchen of his West Falmouth home, that if the election was Trump-Hillary, I would leave the country. That was in mid-June of this past summer, about a month before my worst fear became realized.
In contrast to what I said, I did not pack my bags, abandon my education and buy a one-way ticket to San Sebastian France to kick start a travel writing career, though I thought about it once or twice.
Now I tried in vain, along with everyone else, to pretend that what was happening, wasn’t really happening. When I finally came to terms with the fact that, these were our choices, I tried to give them a shot, I really did. Especially since my internship allows me the time and opportunity to delve deeply into the issues and opinions flurrying about each one.
My conclusions after seemingly endless hours of pursuing articles and opinions about the candidates? Donald Trump is everything wrong with American culture and Hillary Clinton is everything wrong with American politics.
I’ll start with Trump, since I mention him first in the headline. Trump to me is everything that I despise about America. Don’t get me wrong, I love America. It’s been an incredible place to grow up and live and I try to remind myself of that when such things get me down.
But it's true. Trump is everything I hate about America and it's culture. Why? Because he lives up the worst stereotypes the world has about America. That we’re loud, spoiled, and lacking in substance but certainly not confidence. That we're ignorant, racist, and xenophobic to those who see the world in the light of their differing ideology.
Trump belittles people who hold a different viewpoint than him, and sometimes he even belittles people for no reason at all. Or perhaps just to display a show of power. Whether it’s Mexican immigrants, Muslim Americans, women, or prominent members of society like Alec Baldwin and Speaker Paul Ryan, it seems no one is safe unless you conform and agree.
But what’s worse is the man cannot laugh at himself. Cannot stomach any semblance of a slight on his character. And as President, that’s something you’re going to have to do. Think about it. At any given time during his presidency, at least 50% of the people of this country will not like him. And he’s going to have to be okay with that, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to.
This can be clearly seen during the first debate, when a calm, domesticated Donald Trump was goaded into a rage by Hillary Clinton’s remarks that “he might not even be a millionaire…he might not even be a successful businessman.” And, of course, this can be seen by his blowup on Alec Baldwin after his portrayal during Saturday Night Live. As American influence continues to wane, though at a negligible rate at the moment, we are going to have to rely on cooperation and diplomacy more and more. And diplomacy is not one of Donald Trump’s strengths.
Finally, I’d like to address the glaring issue which has caused seemingly irreparable damage to his campaign. The ‘Apprentice’ audio leak. Above all, this was the last straw for me. His justification of such speech came by calling it “locker room talk” and that “Bill Clinton has said much worse on the golf course with me.”
While I don’t doubt the truancy of Bill Clinton's alleged statements about women, Bill isn’t running for the top office, and therefore, what he says and does is irrelevant to this conversation.
I played football for 4 years and was privy to some interesting conversations and activities that occur in locker rooms. Could this be classified as “locker room talk” in the hormonal, overly aggressive, low stakes cesspool that is a high school locker room? Sure. But bear in mind, Trump was 59 years old when he made this comment. He was not some boner popping 17-year-old lusting after a cheerleader out of his league. He’s a grown man with a wife and children who should have a fully developed sense of values by now. And I think what he said off camera is very telling of his true character.
To clarify what was said, Trump essentially was bragging to Billy Bush (cousin of George W.) about coming onto women, and them just accepting it because he was rich and powerful. Sexual assault is a huge problem in America, and a couple weeks ago, I realized that it's something I've never even had to think about.
I was speaking with a girl friend of mine who was lamenting about not being able to go into Boston because no one could go with her, including myself. I said, “If you really want to go, why don’t you just go?” to which she responded, “I don't want to go into the city alone at night. Are you crazy?”
And the worst part is, it’s not getting better. In fact, it’s getting worse. The Worcester Telegram actually published an article on October 18th about the rise of reported rapes and sexual assaults on Central Mass campuses. While the rise isn’t by very much, these are only the reported cases, and I think anyone who goes to college knows it happens a lot more than either the students or the administration would like to admit. Particularly if the school prides itself on being especially safe.
That being said, I cannot condone a possible president who essentially brags about sexually assaulting women, married or otherwise, and still pretend it’s all for the “greater good”. Trump represents the qualities that most embarrass me both as an American and as a man. Once this election is behind us, we have to distance ourselves from such an unflattering image.
That all being said, let’s now turn to Hillary Clinton, who, to be honest, is a distinctly unlovable person. She’s just so damned smarmy. I think that’s the perfect word for her and I came to such a conclusion while watching the second debate. Someone asked her a question and she smiled, inauthentically, and said “That’s a great question. Let me tell you why that’s a great question.”
Hillary, I know your buying time so you can think of a good response off the cuff, but he’s a grown man for God’s sake. He’s not a first grader. When she speaks, it’s so flat and inauthentic and gilded it makes me want to stab myself in the eye. I think I’d rather listen to myself scream than listen to her speak because when she isn’t being sycophantic, she’s outright lying to the American public.
And the worst part is, she pretends she isn’t! Say what you want about Trump, and I have, but he has never once pretended to be anything other than what he is. When asked about his tax returns he said “that makes me smart.” And to be honest, yes Trump, it does make you smart. But it also makes you a burden on the middle class.
Hillary, on the other hand, will deny, deny, deny, lie, lie , lie. She was asked by Anderson Cooper about a leaked Goldman Sachs speech (which she was paid some ungodly amount of money to deliver), about whether or not it’s okay for a politician to have “public and private views,” and whether it’s okay to be “two-faced” in politics. In response, she tried to compare herself to Abraham Lincoln, forgetting, I suppose, that he is literally known as “honest Abe.”
The slip up was just one of the many that led to most polls awarding Trump the crown for the second debate. She continually attempts to pretend she knows what the struggles of the middle class are by injecting little anecdotes about how her father was a “drapist” or guy who sold drapes and such, even while she gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to deliver speeches to large corporations and lobbyists.
And I think that’s my glaring problem with Hillary Clinton. She pretends to be something she’s not, and that’s something I cannot respect. She runs on the Democratic ticket, conspires with the DNC to ensure Bernie Sanders does not win the nomination, deletes 30,000 emails, accepts donations from countless corporations and lobbyists, runs a horrific smear driven campaign against Donald Trump, and then has the gall to stand up on a stage and say “When they go low, we go high.” Sickening.
Barack Obama, a full year before he was elected president, spelled out a governing philosophy designed to ward off special interests: No lobbyists would be hired in his administration. Full stop. And to be honest, he has had one of the most squeaky clean administrations in recent history.
Hillary, on the other hand, has yet to even spell out a plan to curb corporate influence and conflicts of interest in her White House, should she win, leaving the billion-dollar lobbying industry closely watching for signs of change to Washington’s revolving door.
So in closing, who is better for the country? I would say, Hillary. Am I voting for her? No. She hasn’t earned my vote and never will. Most likely I will write in Bernie Sanders since he’s a man I can actually respect and a candidate who earned my vote a long time ago. Besides, Massachusetts is the bluest of blue states. She'll win regardless. My vote is more about making a statement, than making a difference in the polls.
I realize this has been a rather depressing article if you managed to stick with it all the way to the end, and I thank you if you have. Here’s to a quick four years, and may we have better choices in 2020.