- Late summer in US presidential elections is usually a slow time. After the post-convention bus tours, coverage slows, campaign staff and pundits start gearing up for the fall. The general consensus is that no one really starts paying attention to the race until after Labour Day. But as with everything else, in this election cycle, there is absolutely nothing normal about this race, so of course this summer has been anything but quiet. Donald Trump continues to shock and surprise reporters and political experts alike. If there is anything that has been consistent throughout this campaign, it’s that Trump continuously resets the bar for what is acceptable in modern politics.
- Having Trump be the Republican nominee is challenging on many fronts. It is personally a challenge for me because it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of his many lies and misstatements. When watching Trump speak on TV or hearing coverage of his latest gaffe, I often find myself asking some variation of “did he really just say that?”
- Media have a particularly tough challenge, which some are rising to meet better than others. Trump is the official GOP nominee, thus he is due his fair share of election coverage. But, beyond airing his speeches, don’t the media also have a responsibility to fact check the things Trump says? I think there is a fear among some that by doing that, they may be seen as having a bias. But at the end of the day, a journalist has a duty to provide the truth to their readers, watchers, listeners. If Trump says that Obama literally founded ISIS, then yes, the media does have a responsibility to say “actually, no he didn’t.” To their credit, CNN has begun to occasionally live fact-check Trump on their chyrons to hilarious effect.
- Well, maybe not hilarious. I find what Trump is doing to our political discourse to be very disturbing and sad. Never in my lifetime did I think we’d have a candidate running for president who uses the language that Trump does. Who describes his opponents as crooked? Who traffics in the craziest of crazy conspiracy theories? Who retweets white supremacists with alarming frequency? Who encourages violence at his rallies? Who is actively trying to undermine our democracy by blaming a Trump loss on cheating (and not his policies, temperament, etc.)?
- I could go on and on, and this isn’t some cry for political correctness (as if that was a terrible thing). But there is something troubling about the way some Trump supporters talk about women and religious and racial minorities.The New York Times recently put together a short video of some of the most awful things said at Trump rallies. You can say what you want about Sanders and Clinton supporters, but you never hear anything remotely close to what you’re hearing at Trump events. And Trump does nothing to tamp down the awful rhetoric.
- But while this is a very unique election cycle, it is too early for the Clinton camp to start popping the champagne just yet.
- There is an unusual amount of attention being paid to both campaigns right now, but I in no way believe that the polls that show large leads for Secretary Clinton in key states will remain that way. As unappealing to many as Trump is, there is still room for him to move up in the polls. There are two main questions that I ponder as I think about the outcome of this race: How high is his ceiling, and are there more hidden Donald Trump supporters or more hidden Hillary Clinton supporters out there? If the answer is more Donald Trump supporters, the next question is, where do they live? Are they in pivotal swing states or in places like Mississippi that aren’t going to turn purple anytime soon?
- As much as I love politics, I must admit that I am looking forward to election day. This campaign has been nastier and more contentious than any I can remember. And I would be kidding myself if I said that I wasn’t concerned about the outcome. Not so much of the election itself, but of the people in the United States. I still believe that there is more that unites us than divides us. But the next few weeks, will have a profound impact on how much that divide grows.
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