It’s hard to talk about the 2016 US Presidential Election without acknowledging the sheer, unprecedented antagonism that both of the major party campaigns have inflicted on one another.
If you thought the division and hostility that festered during the turmoil of the Rudd/Gillard years in Australian federal politics was bad, it was nothing compared to the ferocious battle for the White House that’s resulted from the campaigns of Democrat Party Nominee, Hillary Clinton and Republican Party Nominee, Donald Trump.
This election season has been so divisive among the American news media and the electorate, its negativity has permeated the political conversation globally and led to smaller scale arguments among Australians who feel content with another Clinton running Washington DC’s executive branch, and rebels who’d like to see the developer mogul have a crack at it.
But after all the spin and the scaremongering that’s been making the clickbait rounds online, in newspapers and broadcast media, are the candidates themselves really that bad?
Although Mr Trump and Secretary Clinton have been unrelentingly brutal toward one another through their aggressive rhetoric, as GovNews is an Australian news outlet, we believe in the age-old principle of giving someone a “fair go”.
Afterall, whichever candidate is elected is the one that Australia will need to deal with as the leader of its most powerful foreign ally, so they should be treated with the respect that’s afforded to any previous US President.
Really, it’s just good manners to lend our allies the support they need, especially the US since we’re not only so culturally linked, we have the ANZUS alliance that solidifies our international bond.
With that in mind, there are fears that a potential President Trump has his eye on dismantling or at least renegotiating foreign treaties and trade deals such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Mr Trump’s rhetorical crosshairs aimed at these deals has been a core element of his appeal to certain frustrated demographics who feel that they have harmed them economically and that they’ve been left behind by the ‘establishment’.
But if elected, Mr Trump’s plans would probably be stymied by a potentially non-compliant federal public service a highly resistant Congress, regardless if it ends up in Democratic hands or remains with the current Republican majority. Neither party is likely to give him a blank cheque or a rubber stamp to authorise his ambitious foreign trade reforms.
Essentially, ANZUS is safe.
On the Clinton side, there’s been an astronomical level of scaremongering about how she could potentially expand the size and scope of the federal government never seen before if she’s allowed to do so by a compliant Democratic-controlled Congress.
History says the checks and balances of the American system of government usually work.
President Barack Obama had the supposed luxury of a Congress completely controlled by his own party with a 60-seat filibuster in the Senate in his first two years in office. But he still couldn’t get his ambitious Cap and Trade legislation on the floor of the Senate after it was passed by a slim majority in the House of Representatives.
The Bill has remained in limbo ever since.
Whichever candidate Americans decide to elect, if it happens to be the one you fear more than the other, take solace in the fact that the US government was designed with separation of powers. Whichever party runs the executive branch usually spends most of its time in an ongoing rivalry with the Legislative Branch. And the Judicial Branch (the Supreme Court) can also be a thorn in the President’s side.
On 12th October, 2016, Republican former Speaker of the House John Boehner told Fox News anchor Brit Hume that he believes no matter who wins the presidential election, it’ll be legislative gridlock in Washington.
That might sound like a “do-nothing” government, but it’s proven to be effective at blocking unpopular and undesirable legislation from being passed into law.
People have developed an unfortunate tendency to demonise their political opposition. The lowest of the low is when they tenuously compare their opposing candidate to some of history’s most bloodthirsty foreign despots.
The race has become especially volatile in the age of social media where any angry keyboard warrior has a platform and hundreds of partisan clickbait websites flourish – and if you multiply that by the millions, the cruelty of human nature is unveiled.
But sifting through the negativity surrounding this election that takes place on 8th November, there is a bright side that should be noted.
As demonstrated by this election cycle, Americans are obviously deeply passionate about the direction of their country, and they have strong feelings about how their own vision of the United States and its relationship with the world is the right one.