9 reasons why this US election race has been the most farcical in history
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A federal scandal, hot sauce, and a 1,989-mile wall. These are just some of the things that have contributed to what has easily become the most contentious election race in living memory. The last time significant change looked as if it might sweep through the carpeted reception rooms of the White House, few still believed that we’d see a black president in our lifetimes. Eight years later, Barack Obama has served two terms in which he passed significant healthcare reforms, ended the war in Iraq, and helped to revive America’s ailing automobile industry. With the battle to become his successor approaching its conclusion, we look back at the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to see what has made this the most farcical of all time.
1. A giant wallAmerica might not be the only place where illegal immigration has become a hot topic. It might, however, be the most controversial – at least when Donald Trump talks about it. Trump’s bright idea to build a “great wall (and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me)” along the US-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it was met with joy, raucous applause and cheering from his supporters – and utter dismay from his critics. The real estate billionaire still hasn’t clarified exactly how or why the Mexican government might agree to such an undertaking, but with just over two months until he is potentially sworn in he’s still got a little time to hone his negotiation skills.
2. A private email serverWhen Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, she set up a domestic email account that she then continued to use for both work and personal correspondence throughout her time in office, saying later that she found it easier to work off one portable device instead of carrying several around with her on account that government blackberries only allowed a user to access one email account at a time. This is rather a grey area where the law is concerned, because it gave Clinton sole control over her email arbitration – what should and shouldn’t be made public regarding government information, and the added contention of handling of classified data on a less secure network. The Clinton campaign breathed a sigh of relief in July when the FBI dropped its initial probe into the affair, saying it hadn’t warranted criminal charges, but had at the very least been “extremely careless”. Flash forward three months and the former First Lady was plunged into chaos all over again when the bureau reopened its investigation on account of another batch of emails coming to light. So much for it just being a bad dream.
3. A pair of small handsHow big were Ronald Reagan’s hands? Or Lincoln’s? Come to think of it, how big were Kennedy’s, really? Now you mention it, no one really knows. It’s never come up before. Not so with this election campaign: the Republican candidate from the great state of New York likes to declare vehemently how big his are, ever since his former party-opponent Marco Rubio accused him of having a spray tan and tiny hands. Rubio learnt the hard way that mud-slinging against Donald Trump is like challenging Anthony Joshua to a fight: Concussion isn’t optional.
4. Tim Kaine’s Donald Trump impressionEvery campaign has its cringe moments – of course, the UK’s had a few. But when Tim Kaine stepped up to the plate as the candidate for Vice President at the Democratic convention this summer, it was hard to know if he’d actually run through his speech that included a slightly jarring impression of the oft-impersonated Donald Trump. “Believe me!” Kaine coughed. “It’s gonna be great, believe me!”
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5. Trump versus Megyn KellyDonald Trump felt somewhat perturbed by an early Republican debate in which journalist Megyn Kelly pushed him for answers over apparent flip-flopping between policies, and a questionable record of success with his Trump University enterprise. Speaking about the encounter in a later interview, Trump said that he didn’t respect Kelly as a professional, and said: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her… wherever,” in what many took to be a thinly-veiled reference to menstruation. Trump denied the charge, stating “only a sick person” would level such a response.
6. Lincoln Chafee and the metric systemSpare a thought for Lincoln Chafee, the once Republican-turned Democratic candidate who launched a campaign with the slogan, “Fresh ideas for America” and swiftly unveiled his first fresh idea: to “go metric”. In fairness to Chafee, it’s not such a bold idea considering America already used metric units for business and commerce, but onlookers were a little confused as to whether it really warranted prime placement up the policy ladder, along with US foreign policy. Chafee hasn’t featured much in the headlines ever since.
7. JebBush.comWherever you stand on Donald Trump, the news that he had bought a lapsed URL for the Jeb Bush campaign – which later turned out to be wrong – delighted commentators across the globe at the end of 2015. JebBush.com now redirected visitors to the official Donald Trump campaign website, DonaldJTrump.com – and even the revelation that JebBush.com was not the official Bush campaign site, or the fact that Donald Trump wasn’t actually behind the hijack, could deter embarrassment for the Bush camp. Despite being among the best funded of all presidential candidates, Jeb Bush bowed out of the race in February after a poor performance in South Carolina and a lack of momentum from supporters.
8. Trump on LatinosWe should pause to reflect for a moment about what reasons Trump gave for wanting to build his huge, “beautiful” wall. The problem, in his mind seems to be simple: Mexicans. In his words: “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”. It’s a quote that’s followed him ever since. After widespread criticism Trump broadened the accusation to people from across South America, angering yet more people. Smart move?
9. Hot Sauce and LemonadeWhen Beyonce launched her drop album Lemonade to wide critical acclaim in April, the signature track Formation was seen as a celebration of proud African American culture and style, proclaiming: “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.” Somehow the words didn’t seem quite so potent when Clinton announced on hip hop radio show The Breakfast Club that one thing she always carried in her bag was “hot sauce”. Many were quick to level claims against her that she was pandering to the African American community in a particularly cynical way, whilst others pointed out that Clinton has long claimed to carry the condiment around with her for its many health benefits, and levelled counter-accusations of sexism. Clinton’s campaign has since confirmed the exact brand of sauce she carries with her – Ninja Squirrel in case you were wondering – but whatever the reality of the situation it’s all a little… cringe.
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