Personality over politics in USA presidential race

Photo by Fani Hsieh
Photo by Fani Hsieh

Looking south of the border, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the United States’ political circus in full swing. The current contest between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton is making history and (spoiler alert) it’s not good history.

The 2016 presidential election will go down as the election with the most disliked candidates of all time and it’s easy to see why.

You likely have heard much about the antics of Republican candidate Donald Trump. So far, he has been accused of mocking a disabled reporter, sexually assaulting women, shady business practices, not paying enough taxes, inspiring Islamophobia, insensitive comments towards Mexican immigrants, advocating for killing terrorists’ families and some very inappropriate “locker room talk.”

On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton’s scandals may be slightly more hidden from the Canadian eye, but there are still plenty to discuss.

Whether it is her clearly unlawful email server, donations from horrible human-rights squashing governments to the Clinton Foundation, Wikileaks uncovering speeches where she admits she has completely contradictory private and public opinions, or her ineptitude in the wake of an attack on an American embassy in Benghazi, which got four Americans killed.

These scandals have defined the election. Let’s be real folks: both these candidates are awful. They are, as it appears, incompetent, corrupt, rotten human beings that should not even come close to the oval office. Lost in the mirage of this race are very important points that weren’t even being discussed in the presidential debates.

There are serious concerns over the Supreme Court. Will Trump nominate judges who will regress the United States in terms of marriage equality? Will Clinton nominate judges that will assault free speech on campuses and work towards the destruction of the right to bear arms?

Why was there no discussion of how the United States will reduce the $19 trillion of debt until the moderator at the last debate forced this discussion? Is it not an issue that the interest on that debt is set the triple over the next decade?

The Heritage Foundation estimates that by 2026, the U.S. government will spend as much as $719 billion dollars a year just paying interest on the debt. Yet, the candidates squabble about the merits or demerits of a border wall with a cost of $10-20 billion.

Is it not an issue that Clinton wants to extend the economic policies of Mr. Obama — policies that gave the United States the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

Neither candidate mentions that the United States has $1.6 million less breadwinner jobs than when Bill Clinton left office 16 years ago — a pathetic record under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Seemingly in the background is Trump’s plan to repeal NAFTA. For anyone with even a basic grasp of economics, this will be a net negative for all parties involved.

Similarly, a forgotten issue is the economic effects of Clinton’s tax plan. According to the Tax Foundation, her plan would reduce GDP growth by 1 per cent, wages by 0.8 per cent and in no way pays for her spending increases (let alone the mounting of debt looming over the next administration).

Military and political aggression from Russia. Refugee crisis in the Middle East. Failing schools. Crumbling infrastructure. A nonsensical health system. The retirement of baby boomers that will wreak havoc on government budgets. The list goes on for poorly omitted topics.

At this point, it’s too late for real policy discussions, sound candidates and maybe even a little bit of logic and reason.

As Canadians, we watch breathless as the circus rolls on. It’s a daunting lesson. In our next elections — provincial, general, or otherwise — we must be sober and thoughtful when we go to the ballot box.

We mustn’t allow ourselves to be faced with an election like our neighbours to the south, placing policy behind personality.

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