In what is shaping up to be the strangest election in United States history, the contest between the Democratic nominee, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Republican nominee, billionaire real estate developer Donald J. Trump is being closely monitored by U.S. voters and an increasingly concerned international community. The Democratic nominee has most recently been charged with several abuses of classified information during her tenure as secretary of state, perjury before the U.S. Congress and illicit dealings with foreign interests buying favors from the State Department through donations to the Clinton Foundation. Conversely, the Republic nominee has been labeled alternatively as “crazy,” “insane,” and “deranged” by a growing number of observers based on his erratic and hate-filled speeches. This essay on the 2016 U.S. Presidential election reviews the literature to provide brief biographies of these presidential candidates followed by an analysis of recent trends that have influenced voter reactions to date. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings concerning the 2016 presidential election are provided in the conclusion.
The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election: Crooked Versus Crazy?
When the Founding Fathers wrote Article II of the U.S. Constitution which stipulates that the president will be elected every 4 years, they also included specific criteria for eligibility including being born in the United States and being a minimum age of 35 years old. The Founders, though, likely did not foresee the day when the major candidates for the U.S. presidency were charged with so much political and psychological baggage or they might have reconsidered their eligibility requirements. The Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, faces a wide array of charges concerning her mishandling of thousands of classified email messages on her personal computer and perjuring testimony to Congress during her tenure as U.S. secretary of state. Likewise, the Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump, is widely regarded as a lunatic of the first order by a growing number of observors, including many who supported him until he revealed his true thinking in a series of highly revealing stream-of-consciousness speeches that create new media firestorms every day. To determine the most recent details and likely outcome, this paper reviews the recent literature to provide brief biographies of these two presidential candidates and their respective chances for winning the presidential election, followed by a summary of the research and important findings concerning these issues in the conclusion.
Overview of 2016 Presidential Candidates
Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Democratic nominee was born in Chicago on October 26, 1947 and went onto earn law degree from Yale University School of Law in New Haven, Connecticut where she met her future husband and U.S. president, William “Bill” Clinton, a fellow law school graduate in 1975. Following their marriage, Clinton would go on to serve as the first lady of the U.S. during the period 1993 through 2001 during husband’s tumultuous tenure as president (Clinton biography, 2016). In 2001, Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate and was later appointed as the 67th U.S. secretary of state in 2009 where she served until 2013 (Clinton biography, 2016). In 2016, Clinton secured the Democratic Party’s nomination, becoming the first woman in the U.S. history to become a major political party’s presidential nominee (Clinton biography, 2016).
The Clinton’s financial fortunes have improved dramatically since their departure from the White House in 2001 when they purportedly claimed they were “dead broke” and their mutual net worth is currently estimated at more than $100 million as a result of lucrative speaking tours by the former president and what some observers charge are shady deals elsewhere (Greenburg, 2016). Nevertheless, all current major polls indicate that Clinton is beating Trump in vital swing states as well as many states that have traditionally voted Republican and most observers agree that she will become the 45th president of the United States following the elections in November 2016.
Donald J. Trump. Born in Queens, New York in 1946, billionaire real estate developer Donald John Trump’s checkered track record as a real estate developer began in 1971 when he began investing in various building projects in Manhattan and continued into the 1980s when he completed the Grant Hyatt, making him one of the best-known real estate developers in the country (Trump biography, 2016). These projects were also the source of controversy that has characterized Trump’s career to date. Using his significant financial clout, Trump went on to pursue other eponymous investments including an airline, casinos and other major buildings, as well as a hit television series, “The Apprentice” and its spinoff, “The Celebrity Apprentice” (Donald Trump biography, 2016).
Although some close associates report that Trump’s interests in politics date back decades, his formal interest was demonstrated in 2015 when he announced he would be a Republican Party nominee for president (Donald Trump biography, 2016). After beating an unprecedented 17 other candidates in the Republican primaries, Trump was officially confirmed as the Republican candidate for president on July 19, 2016 (Donald Trump biography, 2016) having won more votes (13,406,106) in the primary elections than any Republican candidate in history (Hoft, 2016). It would be reasonable to suggest that Trump would able to leverage this heady start in the primaries and his successful professional management background to mount an effective presidential campaign, but most observers agree that his efforts to date have hurt him more than helped him and doubt that there is time enough left to repair the damage already done and these issues are discussed further below.
Figure 1: “2016 Presidential Candidates” Source: Wikimedia
Current Trends and Controversies
As this paper was being written, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its findings of their investigation of Clinton’s alleged misuse of unsecured personal computers while she was secretary of state. The thousands of pages of heavily redacted copies of emails made it clear that there were hundreds of classified documents involved despite Clinton’s testimony to Congress to the contrary. Although several Republican leaders have called for perjury charges, most observers agree that no criminal charges will ever come of this incident but there are also questions concerning the Clinton Foundation and the donations made by foreign interests that allegedly influenced decisions at the U.S. Department of State during his tenure as secretary.
Moreover, these are just some of the most recent scandals involving the Clintons, and it would also be reasonable to suggest that they would be sufficient to derail any nominee’s candidacy in any other presidential election – but this is not a “normal” election by any measure. Indeed, a growing number of observers and professional clinicians have labeled the other candidate, Trump, as being “crazy,” “nuts” and “a flake,” among many other mental health-related pejoratives. For instance, following a week replete with inexplicable major gaffs by Trump, Noonan (2016) described Trump as being “insane” and added, “When you act as if you’re insane, people are liable to think you’re insane. That’s what happened this week. People started to become convinced he was nuts, a total flake” (para. 2). Likewise, other political observers characterize Trump as “goofy” and “deranged”: “Donald J. Trump, the nominee of a party that, like the Democratic Party, has certainly chosen its share of poor candidates (from Warren G. Harding to George W. Bush) but never someone as goofy and possibly deranged as Trump” (Frank, 2016, para. 2).
Against this backdrop, it would appear that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a shoe-in for the presidency, but the harsh reality remains that she is not trusted and actually disliked by a majority of American voters. In this regard, Frank (2016) concludes that “[Clinton] is perhaps the Democrat most vulnerable to Trump’s loathsome and increasingly strange campaign, just as Trump is perhaps the Republican most beatable by Clinton. The only reply is that millions of Americans are asking the same question: ‘Why-oh-why?’” (2016, para. 3). Other observers agree that while one of the candidates will most assuredly win the presidential election, the nation as a whole will be a loser no matter which candidate prevails. For example, Vatz (2016) argues that, “There can be no presidential winner in the 2016 election that will serve the country well” (p. 33). Indeed, many observers suggest that U.S. voters are being forced to accept a kakistocracy, or government by the worst or least-qualified candidates (Noonan, 2016). In this regard, Vatz concludes that, “Whether it is Clinton or Trump, the nation will be saddled with either the most ethically compromised leader since Lyndon B. Johnson in Clinton or the least qualified leader since Warren G. Harding in Trump” (p. 33).
At around 70 years old, neither presidential candidate is a spring chicken, certainly, but there are plenty of “Chicken Littles” in the mainstream media predicting gloom and doom for the United States and the entire world regardless of who wins the 2016 presidential election. While most polls show Clinton leading Trump across the board, polls also indicate that many American voters intensely dislike both candidates and most pundits concede that the 2 months remaining before the election and the four debates scheduled for September and October could still spell the difference in this presidential race. Although the sky may not be falling, the next 4 years will be interesting at best and exceedingly dangerous at worst given the turbulent state of global affairs regardless of who wins this presidential election.
We hope this example 2016 Presidential Election essay will provide you with a template or guideline in writing your own paper. You are free to use any titles, topics, ideas, or sources provided, just make sure you properly cite the information.
Works Cited / References
Donald Trump biography. (2016). Biography.com. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/ people/donald-trump-9511238#synopsis.
Greenburg, J. (2016, August 7). Pro-Trump super PAC ad misleads on Clintons’ wealth, foundation cash link. Politifact. Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/aug/07/america-rising-now/pro-trump-super-pac-ad-wrong-clinton-wealth/.
Hillary Clinton biography. (2016). Biography.com. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/ people/hillary-clinton-9251306.
Hoft, J. (2016, June 7). History! Trump shatters Republican primary vote record by 1.4 million votes. Gateway Pundit. Retrieved from http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/06/ trump-trumps-wins-historic-race-record-fashion/.
Noonan, P. (2016, August 4). The week they decided Donald Trump was crazy. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-week-they-decided-he-was-crazy-1470354031.
Vatz, R. E. (2016, July). No choice at all. USA Today, 145(2854), 33.
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presidential elections over the years
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Presidential Elections: Then and Now
The presidency is the single most important position in all of American government. Who the presidents were and what they did say a lot about America as a whole. In colonial America, the election of public and church officials could probably date back to the very beginning at Plymouth Rock. In the presidential era of the late 19th century, the job as president was considered just that, a job. The presidents made little effort to reach out to the public unlike today where that is the main audience; they need to make the public happy. The president was seen as merely a type of civil servant. All other parts of the government were more important. For example, Congress, who controlled the federal budget, public issues, and legislation, allowed no type of interference from the president. Today the president is more of a leader, equip with more power than in the past.
Today the United States Constitution states that there is a right to hold elections, but the methods and places are left up to the state. It also states that the elections of presidents and vice presidents are to be indirect, which means that they are chosen by electors whom are selected by the people-the Electoral College. There is more emphasis on what the people want and need. This is one result of a changing government and society. With these changes came changes in the way the presidential elections were seen and controlled and also the methods taken to achieve a victory.
There are many differences in the presidential elections of the late 19th, early 20th century and with the elections of today, however there are similarities too. The major areas about presidential elections that are easily comparable are the areas of campaigning, debates, and issues.
In the early years of the nation, men would be asked to take political office. These men were supposedly well known and their character and experience were expected to speak for themselves. As politics democratized in the 19th century, men began to “run” for public office by promoting themselves through campaigning. This was true for all offices except the presidency. The public and press were opposed to presidential campaigning because it was a too dignified position for the candidates to embarrass themselves with personal salesmanship. People felt the president should be above partisanship. This way he would be able to act for the common good.
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Presidential Elections Federal Budget Very Beginning Reach Out United States Constitution Early 20th Century Late 19th Century American Government
Congress was supposed to make the laws; the president was just to see that it was obeyed.
During the period of the 19th and early 20th centuries that belief wore out because presidential candidates changed the level of their participation in their election. They became more active in the involvement of the campaign. There was an uneven movement from the private and silent candidate to the public and direct candidate.
After learning that he was likely to be defeated by fellow nominee Abraham Lincoln, Democratic nominee Stephen Douglas took a campaign swing through the south in1860 urging them not to secede upon Lincoln’s election. This was the first issue-oriented speaking tour by a presidential nominee. Up until 1908, the “front-porch” campaigns were very popular. This was campaigning that literally took place on the nominee’s front porch, usually with an audience of extreme party loyalists. The 1908 election was the first in which both major party nominees engaged in issue-oriented speaking tours. Now that campaigning was becoming more popular, fundraising became a key factor in elections. This money came from numerous places. Local organizations would ask for contributions from their members, public dinners were held that had a fee to attend, and there were sometimes admissions at party meetings. They mostly relied on wealthy businessmen and industries for the money.
Today the president has to reach out to the public. He has an obligation to be active in the election, if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be taken seriously and his ideas and views wouldn’t be heard. Campaigning is a huge factor in today’s elections, usually starting at least a year before the election, if not more. The nominees travel the country, usually making stops in as many states as possible, sometimes multiple stops in equally divided states. When it comes to financing these campaigns, most of the same methods apply. Wealthy businessmen are large contributors and a lot of money comes from actual fundraisers, yet there is still a considerable amount of money that comes from smaller donations from individuals through the mail. If someone is considered a less popular or well-known nominee, then a lot of their financing comes from their own pocket. As the role of the president changed, campaigning became most of what it is today.
Character assassination and other forms of negative campaigning became popular during the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. The political system supported a more win at all costs attitude mainly because, over the 19th century, it gradually became more democratic. At this time, this negative campaigning became very harsh and cruel. Opponents of Andrew Jackson accused him of murder and cartoonists constantly made fun of Lincoln for his unattractive looks. During Lincoln’s reelection, Republicans depicted the Democrats as traitors using posters and pamphlets. The candidates focused on very personal things and at times involving family members of their opponents. They concentrated more on the opponents’ character than on the issues.
This still does go on today, but because of past laws and amendments to civil rights laws, negative campaigning is now where near this harsh. Candidates cannot go around saying anything they want. They need to have some kind of proof or research that explains why they feel this way about their opponent. They can’t just start accusing people of murder like opponents did to Jackson. A lot of the ads on television today are an example of negative campaigning. They don’t focus on the views of the nominee, but rather the negative views or tactics, according to the party, of their opponent. Negative campaigning will probably be around for a long time to come, but the government and the public are finding ways to make it more positive.
Presidential debates did not play a role in the nation’s early presidential races. Candidates were supposed to save their energy for the tasks of the government. There was only the campaigning, which was done through newspapers, pamphlets, posters, and public meetings. These methods did not give objective ideas; they were made and solicited by each political party. Important debates were limited to Congress. The first debates with national significance were between Lincoln and Douglas in the senatorial elections. These debates were very organized and had a lot of attendees, yet there were usually only a few, set political concerns addressed. Early debates were formatted with no moderator or press panel. During this period, state legislators still elected senators, so the voters in the audience had no direct say in the election. The audience was mostly more interested in the discussion of the topic of slavery than the actual race. Although the media followed these debates, it did not lead to a demand for them.
Presidential debates play a significant role today. Voters get to hear each candidates views and beliefs throughout the year, but as it gets closer to election time the debates give them a chance to hear the opposing views together and at the same time get to observe how the candidates act under slight pressure. Debates also give the candidate the opportunity to try and rid of any negative criticism that the opponent may have said about them. The presidential debates of today are often shown on all the major channels on television and covered, almost too much, in the newspapers. Today’s debates are equip with a moderator and press panel, which keeps things somewhat limited, but also prevents things from getting out of hand. Candidates today would likely want to use the Lincoln and Douglas debate format to make a series of speeches if there was no moderator present. Presidential debates reaffirm people’s opinions rather than change them. They are also very useful for swing voters who, without the debates, only see the candidate through a media filter.
The issues of presidential campaigns differ from election to election. One major issue of the elections in the late 19th century, early 20th century was over funding for religious schools. The American society was overwhelmingly Protestant. During the 19th century, a lot of the immigrants came from Ireland and were Roman Catholic. Private, public, and charitable institutions had mainly provided for education. The public schools were Protestant in nature and the Catholic leaders realized this and asked that Catholic schools receive their share of public funds.
Monetary policy was one of the most persistent and apparent issues of the late 19th century. It came to be seen as a moral, as well as economic, issue. Supporters of the gold standard believed that “hard money” had lasting value and that “greenbacks” only had worth because the government said they did. They also believed that gold balanced the supply of money and the economy, which then balanced society. Supporters of greenbacks were usually farmers or others who were left debt-ridden. The economic depression of 1873-1879 gained supporters for the greenback movement, who labeled the demonetization of silver as the “Crime of 73”. In 1900, Congress passed the Gold Standard Act, which formally made all American legal tender redeemable only in gold.
During the late19th century nativism was a significant issue. Quite a bit of “Americans” were foreign-born including Irish, German, English, and Chinese immigrants, all of whom faced prejudice and discrimination. The Chinese population was located primarily on the west coast. It was a tiny population, but racial prejudice and economic competition stirred up intense and sometimes bloody outcomes against them. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned all Chinese immigration to the United States for ten years and prohibited Chinese residents from being American citizens.
The public debate over tariffs reached a peak in the late 19th, early 20th century. During this time the United States was becoming increasingly industrial, urban, and connected to world markets. It was argued that high tariff rates discouraged importing foreign goods. This allowed the American industry to expand, the economy to strengthen, and for jobs to be created. It was also argued that high tariff rates inflated consumer prices and increased international tension.
Depending on recent history within society and with the economy political issues vary from election to election. Civil Right has been an issue for a long time and still is today. In recent, and current, elections the topic has turned to gays and lesbians. The big controversy is whether or not to allow or ban gay marriages. This is an equally split issue because of the fact that voters can only go one-way or the other. Along with this is the issue of hate-crimes and whether or not individuals should be more harshly punished for committing a crime on a person who is gay.
Because of the recent terrorist attacks and war with Iraq; the issue of defense, international policy, and homeland security have become major issues in the upcoming presidential election. The focus is on army size, national missile defense, and immigration. People want to see tighter security within the realms of immigration, since some of the terrorists were considered citizens of the United States. There is also a lot of commotion about the reconstruction of Iraq. People want to know how this is going to benefit them, and where all the money is going in the process, considering our own country is in extreme debt.
Health care has become a huge issue today, especially concerning older citizens and prescription drug benefits. Most of the people who need more prescriptions are the elderly. These are the same people who are trying to live off of their social security checks, which is hard to do when a lot of the time the prescriptions they need costs hundreds of dollars a month. There is also the issue with health benefits. It seems that each year, if not every couple of months the cost of health insurance through HMOs is rising. It seems that soon no one, except the wealthy will be able to afford it.
Another important topic today is social issues. There is an excessive amount of controversy dealing with abortion; there are those that are pro-life and pro-choice. This subject is difficult, because once you form an opinion about it; it is hard to sway you another way. Another social issue is that of gun control. A lot of the violence in today’s society is done with firearms. It seems as though everyone has a gun, or is able to get one. Some feel that they are a necessity in everyday life where others think that there needs to be more restrictions on who can obtain one.
The presidency is still the single most important position in all of American government. The president has control of things that affect our everyday life and the way we live it. Who the president is says a lot about America as a whole. There have been many changes in American society since the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the issues change with the times, but the major and important ones remain, just in different attire. There are many, major differences in the presidential elections since that time, including campaigning, presidential debates, and in the issues. There are things that are similar too, and it is in these similarities that you can define America.