One month out from the end of the 2016 United States Presidential race, I am watching with a morbid mixture of fascination and horror, the ever farcical state of the Republican and Democrat campaigns. And as I watch them, for all the ineptitude of National and Labour in New Zealand, I would rather have them than either the U.S. Republicans or Democrats.
Neither U.S. presidential candidate is really fit to lead the United States of America. Both have done or are alleged to have done things that potentially seriously undermine the domestic authority of the Oval Office and diminish the global stature of the incumbent.
Donald Trump’s inability to control his mouth has caused a range of controversies over the last several months. His attacks on women, notably Fox host Megyn Kelly, gave Americans a fore taste of his campaign to come. His degrading comments about a disabled man made many recoil in disgust. However judging by the speed with which the Republican Party is scrambling to get away from him, this latest one involving a microphone left on, which recorded explicit remarks that appear to condone sexual harassment might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. With even his family and Vice Presidential nominee apparently putting distance between Mr Trump and themselves and a wide range of senior Republicans withdrawing their endorsement of Mr Trump, the billionaire businessman turned politician now looks in serious danger of losing the election.
However, as bad as Mr Trump appears, this most certainly is not to say Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton is any better qualified to lead the United States of America. She is not, and in some ways, with the history of her husband and his sexual dalliances with a certain intern, and alleged incidents with others, means that she has as much personal baggage as Mr Trump. And it does not stop there. Her time as Secretary of State under President Barak Obama saw an incident at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi which was attacked by militants who shot dead four American diplomats in 2012. Ever since Republicans have been hounded by the fringe elements of their party to get criminal charges brought against Mrs Clinton. And then there is the e-mail server that Mrs Clinton used when she was Secretary of State, and a vast number of e-mails on it, possibly containing highly classified information that was potentially compromised by being sent/received using her personal e-mail address. Investigations have been conducted by the F.B.I., but as yet no one other than Fox commentators, have suggested that she be charged in a court of law.
And both politicians financial histories raise interesting – if not slightly damning – questions about their transparency.
Although Mrs Clinton has released her taxation records, it is her links to Wall Street banks, widely distrusted as they are across the first world, that ensure that even before she reaches the White House – should she win it – her Presidency will start with questions about her regard for fiscal responsibility, . This however explains her desire to be seen to doing the responsible thing by changing the tax code.
Donald Trump released his taxation records too. But as he did so, it was found that he has had multiple business ventures collapse, suffered six bankruptcies and somehow racked up a $916 million loss. And his attitude has not helped him either. By boastfully defending his record instead of acknowledging the massive pitfalls, Mr Trump has in some respects ceded the not so high ground.
If this is how these two candidates are going to treat Americans, why should anyone around the world trust them to do the right things on the world stage? Or Gary Johnson?