By Cáitríona Murphy
In the third of a series of articles looking at the US Presidential Election, The City’s Cáitríona Murphy fills us in on the events that have unfolded over the past ten days, including the third and final debate, and the effect that it has had on the election.
As both candidates try to prove their worthiness, outside actors shed light on each candidate’s questionable past, and spectators watch as their reputations diminish. The question now is not who is the best candidate but who could the American people stomach to see in the Oval office?
Unsurprisingly, following the emergence of Trump’s 2005 ‘backstage at American idol’ video an array of women have come out of the woodwork accusing Mr Trump of inappropriate behaviour and sexual misconduct; including groping and making unwanted advancements.
In Thursday night’s debate, Trump told the mediator Chris Wallace that “those stories have been largely debunked” in response to the allegations from nine women. Trump insisted that the emergence of these women this week was either orchestrated by the Clinton’s campaign team or that these women just wanted their “10 minutes of fame”.
Although it is unlikely that Trump will actually be charged with sexual assault, these allegations have caused the – already divided – Republican party to split even further.
However, Clinton has not exactly had the best week either as the controversy surrounding her emails has once again blown up in her face after Wikileaks published around 20,000 pages of emails illegally stolen from John Podesta, her campaign chair.
The emails don’t really expose any new information about Clinton but rather shows us the inner workings of how Hillary Clinton works politically.
The emails have provided more details of the questionable relationship between the Clinton Foundation and its donors, her ties with big business in Wall Street and other wealthy campaign contributors.
The text on the left is parts of Hillary’s speeches that she was paid an exorbitant amount of money to make at Goldman Sachs events, and the highlighted text shows the close relationship that she has with high profile Wall Street companies. She discusses her military tactics with the Wall Street company. “My view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene,” she said. And she exposes her true economic policies in terms of regulation, “People that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.”
Clinton is a walking contradiction when it comes to Wall Street and regulation. Up until now, she has walked a fine line between what she says to the public and what she means. However, this is not news, she has been questioned and attacked about her ties to Wall Street and all Wikileaks has done is confirm her contradictions.
The email on the right (above) is an example of the ethical difficulties that face the Clinton Foundation. This email is discussing how representatives from Qatar were hoping to get “five minutes” with former President Bill Clinton while in New York to present him with a $1 million check for his foundation as a birthday gift.
Ethical issues arise from this as the ties that the foundation has to foreign governments and financiers are unhealthy, and it raises questions about whether or not these donations are being used to buy favours from Hillary Clinton, considering at the time that this email was sent, Ms Clinton was the country’s top diplomat
This is nothing that she can be sent to jail for, and these assumptions can not be confirmed, but it does shed a light on the inner workings of the Clinton’s political dealings in the past, the foundation and Clinton’s campaign.
For anyone reading the emails and speeches that were published by Wikileaks, it may make a voter uneasy but would not exactly inspire any Democrat to go out and vote for Trump, especially after hearing some of the allegations made by his accusers.
Before the final debate on Wednesday, nine women had come forward with stories of groping and unwanted advances from Mr Trump which he denied when questioned about; “I didn’t know any of these — I didn’t see these women,” he said.
Since the debate a tenth woman has come forward, Karena Virginia, a yoga instructor and life coach from the New York region. She said she was 27 at the time and was waiting for a car to take her home when Mr Trump grabbed her right arm and “then his hand touched the right inside of my breast,” Ms Virginia said.
Getting down to brass tacks: the real policy issues
Both candidates had a tough week but both candidates also performed well on the night of the debate and the mediator Chris Wallace managed to focus the debate on important policy issues far more successfully than the mediators did at the previous debates. After every issue, each candidate was given two minutes to speak and granted brief rebuttals if necessary making it overall a successful debate for the audience and candidates alike.
It was important for each candidate to get their final remarks on the topics that can make or break their campaign. What is most notable about any debate is where the candidates differ and in this case it was abortion, gun laws, immigration and the handling of the economy (specifically taxes).
In the case of abortion and gun laws, Trump assured the audience that he would appoint pro-life judges to the supreme court who “will have a conservative bent, and will be protecting the Second Amendment”, which is the amendment that gives the citizens of the US a right to bear arms.
Trump believes that the Constitution is sacred and should be interpreted how the founding fathers wanted it interpreted, whereas Clinton, along with most democrats, believes that the Constitution is a living document. She said in the debate on the issue of the Supreme Court that “it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade,” which was the landmark case that extended the right of privacy to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
In terms of guns laws and the Second Amendment, in usual Hillary Clinton fashion, she tows the line and tries to stay to the centre as we saw in the debate. “I understand and respect the tradition of gun ownership. It goes back to the founding of our country. But I also believe that there can be, and must be, reasonable regulation,” she said. Whether she believes it or not, Clinton knows that she cannot afford to lose the vote of the gun owners in America.
One vote that Hillary Clinton can always rely on is that of the minority groups specifically the votes of the African-American, Latino and Hispanic communities, especially in this election. Trump has spouted particularly racist rhetoric since the beginning of his campaign and one can go as far as saying that one of the foundation policies of his campaign is his idea to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. Two weeks before the election is due to take place, nothing has changed as we heard in the debate; “Now I want to build a wall. We need the wall. The border patrol, ICE, they all want the wall. We stop the drugs, shore up the border,” he said.
Clinton’s political experience really shone through at this point in the debate as she took what Donald said and reinterpreted it for the audience, “Now, here’s what that means, it means you would have to have a massive law enforcement presence, where law enforcement officers would be going school to school, home to home, business to business, rounding up people who are undocumented, and we would then have to put them on trains, on buses, to get them out of our country.”
In this one sentence Clinton appeals to both Democrats and Republicans as she outlines how Trump’s plan would cost the country billions. As well as the cost of such an operation, this one sentence would send a chill down the spine of every conservative Republican who has nightmares about mass state intervention.
And finally probably the second biggest topic of the whole election was of course the economy and how each candidate plans to stimulate it and increase the historically low rate of GDP growth. And once again the ideological split is seen. Typical of a liberal Democratic candidate Clinton tells the audience that she wants to raise taxes and raise the minimum wage. She criticises Trump’s economic policies as she says he uses ‘trickle down’ economics that favour the wealthy and privileged whereas she “will not raise taxes on anyone making $250,000 or less,” she said.
In contrast but a stance typical of the Republican Party Trump says that, “We’re going to cut taxes massively. We’ll cut business taxes massively.” The point in doing this is to incentivise companies to stay in America, which will therefore create employment.
If voters were only to look at each candidate’s policies and political beliefs their job on the 8th of November may not be so difficult but when the voters begin to consider all of the outside and personal factors of Trump and Clinton the choice is not as clear cut. Clinton appears to be gaining ground at the moment but I truly believe the air of uncertainty that has developed over this election will remain until the last ballot is counted.