Vot­ers had to sort through cam­paign vit­riol to get to is­sues

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - Wil­liam Hen­nelly Con­tact the writer at williamhen­nelly@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

In a con­test be­tween na­tional is­sues and per­sonal con­duct, the is­sues ap­pear to have won out in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Don­ald Trump was elected pres­i­dent de­spite his many recorded in­dis­cre­tions be­cause he had key is­sues such as trade, ter­ror­ism, im­mi­gra­tion and health­care in his fa­vor.

Much of what Hil­lary Clin­ton said dur­ing the cam­paign was not about why she should be pres­i­dent but why Trump shouldn’t be.

How much of Amer­i­cans’ ev­ery­day con­cerns hinges on what Trump said to Miss Uni­verse in 1996?

The ar­gu­ment could be made that past in­ci­dents are re­flec­tive of one’s char­ac­ter, but vot­ers de­cided not to give more weight to some­one’s prior or even cur­rent be­hav­ior if they be­lieved that per­son would im­prove their lot in life — and the pre­mi­ums on their health in­sur­ance.

This was an elec­tion in which both can­di­dates re­tained most of their pas­sion­ate sup­port­ers no mat­ter what they said or did.

Trump said he could shoot some­one on Fifth Av­enue, and peo­ple would still vote for him.

Clin­ton brazenly set up her own home-brew server and had some of the less sa­vory sides of her cam­paign reg­u­larly ex­posed by Wik­iLeaks, but she still had strong par­ti­san sup­port that trans­lated into a small edge in the pop­u­lar vote.

Many an­gry vot­ers also wanted some­one who “tells it like it is” whether it is that way or not. That phe­nom­e­non also took place on the Demo­cratic side, as Ver­mont Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders scored pri­mary points go­ing af­ter Wall Street.

Clin­ton had the Wash­ing­ton ex­pe­ri­ence and the prospect of try­ing to be­come the first woman pres­i­dent.

But she and her hus­band car­ried a lot of po­lit­i­cal bag­gage, and she had to cope with a del­uge of sto­ries about the pri­vate email server and an on-again, off-again FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her han­dling of clas­si­fied information.

Clin­ton also faced some ques­tions about her health and the ap­pear­ance of pref­er­en­tial treat­ment for pa­trons of the lu­cra­tive Clin­ton Foun­da­tion.

Even the back­ing of the mainstream me­dia and a Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee that catered to her po­lit­i­cal needs and sup­pressed Sanders were not enough to get her across the thresh­old again at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue.

A lot of cam­paign is­sues were fer­vently hashed out on the dig­i­tal bat­tle­fields of Twit­ter and Face­book, and while the ma­jor tele­vi­sion net­works and news­pa­pers still have some in­flu­ence, they don’t have the moral grav­i­tas they did 30 or 40 years ago.

Their voices were up against an in­ter­net ca­coph­ony and vot­ers who in­creas­ingly sought news that re­in­forced their own po­lit­i­cal lean­ings.

Trump was able to win de­spite not only hav­ing the mainstream me­dia lam­poon his can­di­dacy but also af­ter most of the GOP Belt­way es­tab­lish­ment ar­ro­gantly crowed that he could never se­cure the 1,237 del­e­gates to win the nom­i­na­tion, and that the party con­ven­tion in Cleve­land would de­volve into a floor fight.

Also help­ing Trump was his dis­missal of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. In a coun­try where some ma­jor uni­ver­si­ties are wor­ried about what Hal­loween cos­tumes their stu­dents wear, Trump struck a blow for com­mon sense and free speech.

De­spite hav­ing the pres­i­dent and first lady cam­paign­ing daily for her down the stretch, Clin­ton could not gen­er­ate the ex­cite­ment that a Pres­i­dent Barack Obama or a Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton could.

Clin­ton also couldn’t in­spire pas­sion among some AfricanAmer­i­can vot­ers not only be­cause she wasn’t Obama, but be­cause a fair amount of them felt taken for granted by the Demo­cratic Party.

The two can­di­dates’ ral­lies were prob­a­bly a bet­ter barom­e­ter of voter sen­ti­ment than any poll. Trump would rou­tinely get thou­sands at his far more fre­quent events, while Clin­ton’s tightly man­aged ap­pear­ances would strug­gle to get hun­dreds, ex­cept when she had some ma­jor celebri­ties ap­pear.

Fi­nally, Clin­ton was up against his­tory. No other can­di­date from the same party since Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt in pre-term lim­its 1940 has ever won the White House three times in a row.

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