Four years ago I wrote a blog about the presidential election in the USA evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the two protagonists. That election ebbed and flowed before President Obama pulled away from Governor Romney in the final fortnight of the campaign and won decisively. It could be argued that Governor Romney never fully recovered from the Hurricane Sandy disaster where President Obama, together with Republican Governor Chris Christie, came across extremely presidential with his dealings, and his media exposure was massive. Governor Romney never recovered from his speech about income inequality where he was taped making a throwaway comment about the poor not mattering. President Obama was coming to the end of his first term and the electorate were underwhelmed as he had not lived up to the hope and promise of his campaign. In saying this, both candidates were strong and both candidates were certainly presidential. Which brings me to the election of 2016 – wow, what can I say about the candidates this year? How do these two “celebrity” candidates stack up this year in their audition to become the most powerful person in the world?
This one is a decisive victory for Secretary Clinton. To be honest, I don’t believe that we have ever had a more qualified candidate for the role of President of the United States of America. Secretary Clinton started her career in law in Arkansas where she became a Partner of a law firm and sat on a number of corporate boards. From there she was the first lady for her husband, Bill Clinton, where she played an active role in the formulation of health care policy amongst other things. She earned the respect of many for the dignified way she presented to the public through years of scandal and stood by her popular husband in very trying circumstances. After eight years in the White House, she became a Senator for New York before becoming Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
Mr Trump, on the other hand, has carved out a successful and prominent business career over many decades. He has made millions and millions through the property industry and has carved out a media career through his role in The Apprentice. His name recognition is extremely high, however, he has not served in a government role and the mechanics of Washington would certainly be a struggle for him. He understands business, particularly property development, however it would be fair to say that his experience is not what you would expect for a presidential candidate.
Leadership and Vision
This is a really tough one to call as the campaign and the debates haven’t really established any real policy platforms, so I am prepared to call this one a badly fought draw. Their campaign slogans probably said enough; “Hillary for America” and “Make America Great Again”. One slogan is all about the individual and this can backfire (please refer to Jeb Bush) and one implies that America is not great and aims to take advantage of discontent. Neither really highlight any vision and inspire the population and this really set the tone for the debates. No real policies beyond building a wall and no real inspirational outlook on what they would do with the enormous power and influence the office brings them. Leadership and vision fell well behind the gutter tactics of this campaign and they have never really come back. Maybe a slight advantage to Secretary Clinton because of the message this would send to women throughout the world but this is certainly not conclusive.
Skeletons in the Closet
This is where the majority of the election campaign has focused on and it has been exhausting observing it from afar. We have heard about emails, servers, sex scandals, corruption, foreign donations, tax dodging and every day there seems to be a different scandal that comes to the surface, and it actually says a great deal that both candidates are still in the race. It is frankly amazing to think that these candidates are still standing and punching on. I really can’t say who is the most flawed and the most damaged – let’s just say that they cancel each other out and it makes me quite thankful to have some of our bland leaders in Australia right now!
X Factor and the Ability to Relate to People
I have to give this one to Mr Trump. What started as a joke has become very real in the eyes of many. He has a certain style that allows him, a billionaire, to relate with the battler on the street. He has tapped into disaffected “Joe Average” who has lost his job and has become their champion. Scandals seem to wash off him as he is easily forgiven. He plays the underdog and the outsider very well and he generates great excitement when he speaks to a crowd. Secretary Clinton is less natural and at ease, however, her X factor is her remarkably sharp mind and the fact that it is long overdue to have a female president. She doesn’t seem as at ease in crowds as Mr Trump, however, her debate performances were far superior.
The polls are showing that the race is tightening, however, I am predicting a Clinton win by a large margin. Her experience and temperament make her a safer choice and I think that Trump has certainly put a large proportion of the population off-side during the campaign. In saying that, I hope that either candidate, should they win, become the world statesman that is sorely needed right now and exceed the relatively low expectations that are held for them. It is fair to say that this campaign has underwhelmed me and, if pushed to choose a candidate, I would choose Secretary Clinton but not with any gusto. It makes me long for those past; Bill Clinton, John McCain, George H. W Bush, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Jed Bartlet, Arnold Vinick – you are all greatly missed this year, even the actors!
Brad McMahon – Managing Director