Elections from afar: Trumpologize

Although the campaigns have been raging for what seems like forever, the 2016 American presidential election is finally drawing near. In these last weeks leading up to November 8, the UK will be speaking with Americans at the RUG about why this year’s election matters to them and what it’s like to witness the madness from across the ocean.
By Traci White

Question: In this election, does character or platform matter more?

Normally I would say platform, of course.

But in hindsight, that was a symptom of there being relatively low variance in the character and temperament of candidates. There are a lot of staunch Republicans who are jumping ship on account of Trump’s character. But at the same time, if I truly believed the choice was between chaos loosely oriented towards the good and order oriented towards the bad, I would pick chaos almost every time. In the end, it’s going to depend on which parts of the platform you prioritise; Trump’s character really matters when it comes to international relations, and it’s those Republicans who are jumping ship.

But I don’t think Trump’s character will have much impact on pushing major tax breaks through Congress, or defunding social services. So I still say that platform matters most, but it’s become more apparent than ever that character might be a factor when it comes to making the platform a reality.

I think that the judgment of the American people on character weighs heavier than platform when it comes to elections.

When it comes to Clinton, public opinion often refers back to her legacy as Secretary of State and the recent ‘e-mail scandal’. When it comes to policymaking and political decision-making, I think platform will matter far, far more since it will require content more than character to convince others.

Character matters more in getting elected.

It still matters in enacting a platform, but having policies at that point helps, too.

To me, both are quite important.

I have yet to see a major party candidate who had a platform I could identify with – although Sanders came close –  so I don’t expect to find a platform that will fit my views. In this election in particular, I think character is very important. To me, Clinton is an accomplished stateswoman while Trump is self-interested, inarticulate and not particularly bright. Neither has policy goals I agree with, but Trump’s character and attitude seem likely to drive the country into a ditch, while Clinton will simply keep the country on the problematic course it is on.

It depends on which type of voter you ask.

My impression is that the typical Republican voter is less preoccupied with platform and is less likely to ask, ‘What’s your stance on Aleppo?’ and is more likely to focus on character, saying that a candidate ‘exudes family values’ or ‘I’d drink a beer with him’. The priorities are reversed for the typical Democrat voter.

Neither candidate inspires the way Obama’s character does.

But Trump’s character puts me off more, especially in combination with his utter lack of political experience which, coupled with his overconfidence, could easily lead him to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that many would regret.

Both character and platform are extremely important in this (and every) election.

One of the many reasons people are having such a hard time determining who to vote for is because both Trump and Clinton have views that cross party lines. Also, much of the left is becoming more left and much of the right is becoming more right. Traditional candidates, like Clinton, are moderate to appease voters on both sides. Trump is his own camp. What is most scary and appalling to me about this specific election is, well, Trump. He is discriminatory in his platform; his implementation strategies are non-existent; and his attitude, well…

Living abroad, there is this constant feeling that I need to Trumpologize for the things he says and the way he behaves. He is serving as a representative for our country to the rest of the world. He has no manners and no class. I want to constantly assure people that not all Americans feel so entitled or self-righteous, not all Americans are so prejudiced or sexist. How terrifying is it that he is serving in this leadership role? If a woman candidate acted in the same whiny, finger-pointing, name-calling, and insulting manner as Trump, she would have never made it past the primaries. I am not speaking about Clinton specifically: women (and minorities!) are held to higher standards of character. They need to present themselves practically perfectly or else face much more criticism. I’m not saying that any candidate should have the right to behave as Trump, but that we need to judge behaviors equally.

I think platform matters more, but I think character plays an equal if not greater role in deciding who gets elected.



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