2016 Campus Divided? Opinions World Issues, Campus Views

Trump defines election, keeps Clinton on defensive

By Hayden Welty ’19
THE ROUNDUP

According to a recent poll by The Washington Post, 56 percent of Americans view Donald Trump “strongly unfavorably,” but he could still be our next president.

With the passionate, wholehearted support of a section of America obscured from mainstream society, Trump, an unorthodox presidential aspirant, has somehow muscled his way into a party who shunned his entire candidacy until it was too late.

Now Americans must deal with the consequences.

The Republican Party has officially nominated Donald J. Trump for the presidency of the United States.

As Americans, we have a choice: Trump, arguably the most offensive presidential candidate in modern history, or Hillary Clinton, a career politician who narrowly escaped indictment, and the Democratic Party’s nominee.

I dislike both of the two major candidates and, according to the Pew Research Center, Americans agree with me.

A recent poll shows that only 43 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Republicans are either very or fairly satisfied with the presidential candidates, compared with 64 and 52 percent in 2012, respectively.

This would suggest that, like me, most people are uncomfortable voting for Trump or Clinton and would prefer another option.

As a result, I would also contend that many voters, even if they’ve made up their mind already, can still can be persuaded to vote for the other candidate.

This makes the dialogue in the coming months crucial to the outcome of the election.

Real Clear Politics, a nonpartisan polling website, has Clinton leading by 6 percent, which is not a huge advantage considering each poll usually has a 3 or 4 percent margin of error.

So clearly, despite forecasts from The New York Times that say Clinton has a 76 percent chance of victory, the presidency, for better or for worse, is very much up for grabs.

So far, Trump has manifested his criticism of Clinton into a slogan-like nickname: Crooked Hillary.

And while this sounds more like an unsophisticated jab than presidential criticism, such vilification can be interpreted as a valid argument.

During Clinton’s many years of public service, she has been criticized for her questionable involvement in many accusations of backhanded deals and public corruption, which have lead to multiple FBI investigations.

A recent CNN poll shows that 68 percent of Americans think Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, which, after 30 years of polling, is the highest number on record.

Theoretically, and not taking the Electoral College into account, she would need 51 percent of the electorate to vote for her in order to become president, which is troubling since 68 percent do not even trust her.

And instead of addressing the adamant, authentic concerns of hundreds of millions of Americans, the Clinton Campaign has refused to engage in the “insult fest that [Trump] seems to thrive on,” calling Trump’s comments “childish.”

By not engaging in a public spat with Trump, Clinton can take the moral high ground, but at the same time, she also lets Trump define the narrative without rebutting it.

This is a big deal because elections revolve around the narrative, they are about framing and making the better argument, not about appearing high-minded.

Is name calling childish?

Sure, but in this instance, voters, although they respect decorum, want to vote for someone who discusses issues relevant to them, even if they are childish.

Trump was able to beat Marco Rubio by calling him Little Marco, he beat Ted Cruz by calling him Lying Ted, and he could beat Hillary Clinton by calling her Crooked Hillary.

Just six insulting words could sway the outcome of the election.

What does that say about our political system?

Trump effectively boils down complex political, social and economic problems into confident, short responses that are perceived as a certainty when in reality it is just his opinion.

But if the Republican primary was any indication, voters love his simple, blunt rhetoric even if it breaks every social norm in the book.

Who would you hire, the man who says “I can try to fix this” or the one who asserts “I know how to fix this.”?

I guess we will find out in just a few short months.