TRUMP VS CLINTON : MURKY RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Trump has built his case as the “Voice of the voiceless” while Clinton is presenting herself as the “change-maker.” Now, it is up to the American voters to decide who will be their 45th President
The race to the White House is now at the hands of voters as Americans go to the ballot box today. On the cards are nominees from the two major parties Hillary Clinton (Democratic) and Donald Trump (Republican). Two other candidates - Green Party’s Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson are yet to garner the 15 per cent threshold in polls that would allow them to be considered for presidential debate and concurrently a free ticket to media exposure. For the time being, the election, as traditionally has been the case, is a two-horse race pitting Clinton and Trump.
What has been unique about this election, is its unconventional nature. A lot of media coverage for either candidate has been spent on explaining virtues or vices as opposed to policies that the American people always yearn for. Democrats or Republicans are defined by distinct policies, principles and ideologies. In terms of philosophy, Democrats tend to be liberal and left-leaning while Republicans are known for conservatism and right-leaning. This means Republicans prefer smaller government, less regulation and services that are catered for by the private sector in a free market. Democrats prefer more regulation and open to a free universal healthcare provided by the government to all citizens. In terms of economics, Republicans hold the view that government should tax less and spend less, while Democrats are for big government and those earning high income should pay a larger percentage of their income as taxes.
Trump has built his case as the “Voice of the voiceless” while Clinton is presenting herself as the “Change-maker.” All in all, it has just been words. For the most part, these lines of thought seem to have been thrown out of the window in this election by Trump, Clinton and their surrogates as the candidates get personal on each other.
It is however, not unprecedented in America for an election campaign to be laced in grotesque remarks and innuendoes that seek to destroy than build. The 1964 election had sitting President Lyndon Johnson against Republican Barry Goldwater. It was marked in history as one of the nastiest in the 20th century. Two conflicting bumper sticker slogans of that time summed up the campaigns. GOLDWATER SUPPORTER: “In your heart you know he’s right.” JOHNSON SUPPORTER: “In your heart you know he’s nuts.”
Trump has been on the offensive whether in the Republican primaries or in his contest with Clinton. During the primaries, he had nicknames to almost all his challengers: Jeb Bush was baptised “low-energy;” Marco Rubio became “little Marco;” and Ted Cruz nicknamed “lying Ted.” In spite of the unconventional campaign, Trump easily defeated his challengers who together had over 100 years in public service either as governor or senator.
Secretary Clinton has recently come under fire ostensibly for mishandling the 2012 Benghazi attack where the US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other US nationals were killed. Furthermore, Hillary’s credibility has been watered down by her use of personal emails to transact official correspondence, which included classified information. The FBI’s decision to start an investigation into the matter threatened to derail her campaign efforts and Trump did not hesitate to push his agenda calling Hillary “unreliable”, a “liar” and “unfit to be president”. And just 48 hours before the elections, it has surely come as a relief to the Clinton campaign after FBI director James Comey issued a statement on Sunday saying that the new batch of emails warrant no criminal wrongdoing.
As an African keen on the November election, I am aware that nothing matters more in an election than the satisfaction of shared interests. The choice for Africa as represented by the millions of Africans living in America should be premised on the candidate with a track record showing commitment to the well-being of Africa in a mutual collaborative co-existence. So far, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated to be that candidate. Ironic to say, but most of the evidence that points us to that direction has been made available courtesy of the emails made public by the state department. For example, we learn
that secretary Clinton was saddened by the death of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. Upon being notified of her death, Secretary Clinton wrote the following to her chief of staff:
“PIs do statement from me and condolence letter to family. Thx”
Another email to Secretary Clinton from Carolyn Keene, the Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs under Bill Clinton Administration solidifies the notion that Hillary Clinton was in awe of Wangari Maathai and would do anything for her cause. Keene’s request is for Clinton to do a short video for an event at the Durban COP, honoring Wangari and supporting forest preservation. She agreed.
In the political realm, Secretary Clinton has shown that she cannot be cowed by empty threats not geared to benefit the hoi polloi. Clinton and her team are celebrating an article covering her visit to a number of African countries. A paragraph from the article that seems to tickle Clinton and her team reads:
“Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, speaking hours before Clinton arrived, said Africa did not need to be lectured about democracy. After they met, she did just that.
“The absence of strong and effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence and a lack of respect for a rule of law,” Clinton said.
“These conditions ... are continuing to hold Kenya back.”
Odinga switched to a more conciliatory tone, saying African countries could learn from Clinton’s example when she conceded defeat to Obama during the US presidential primaries.
“That is a lesson Africa needs to learn seriously,” he said. “In Africa, in many countries, elections are never won, they are only rigged. The losers never accept that they lost. If we do this, we will be able to develop democracy truly in the African continent.”
This in a sense shows a candidate in this year’s election who is committed to stand with the underserved and the oppressed. I am aware of the lingering question marks about Secretary Clinton’s honesty and commitment to what is true but from an African perspective, she has already shown that she minds about Africa and Africans. Besides, having served in the Obama administration, she is more likely to keep implementing his policies and ensuring that those already passed stay.
On the contrary Trump has made clear his intentions to reverse some of the policies that President Obama has signed into law if elected president. Namely the Executive Orders and concessions that have led to the normalisation of relations with Cuba, Obamacare and policies on immigration. Executive orders are normally the easiest to roll back on as all they require is another executive order to take them back.
Unfortunately, though, Donald Trump has not shown Africa what he stands for. During his first foreign policy speech on the campaign trail in April, there was really no solid talk on what plans he has for Africa. He spoke about ending China and Asia’s unfair trade policies and getting the Middle East “back in line with better deals”. No word on Africa.
I think the only reference to anything African has been his saying that he would do more for African-Americans in one year than Barrack Obama has done for the duration of his term.
There is however, a myth that during the Kibaki regime, Trump was to build a hotel in Nairobi, but someone in government kept asking for a kickback and Trump bolted, and ended up pitching tent in Dubai. If this is proved to be the case in the course of the campaigns, then one can argue that the Donald means business when dealing with corruption.
All in all, as the polling stations open their doors later this evening, what is guaranteed is that the race will be tight and the outcome... well.. we wait and see.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump points at the gathered media during his walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, US on July 21.