Nasty, indeedThe 2016 election, which has been one of the nastiest and most contentious presidential elections in U.S. history, is getting messier with less than a month to the polls.
Republican candidate Donald Trump, who lost favor with female voters with his sexist comments and behavior throughout the campaign, is being urged by some Republicans to step aside after lewd and predatory comments about women from the past were released on top of being accused of raping a 13-year-old girl. His Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton hounded Trump on the allegations about his treatment of women in the second debate. Trump did not go down easily and brought out women who alleged that they were sexually assaulted by his rival’s husband and former president Bill Clinton.
Trump is largely to be blamed for turning the election to pick the 45th U.S. president into a scandalous tabloid spectacle. He has been outright and vulgarly offensive to women and people of color for a long time. He said and did whatever he felt necessary to get his name on the front page. The presidential race became a smear contest instead of a policy debate.
Yet Trump has risen to a mainstream candidate because he saw through the inner supremacist ego in the American society. Despite his scandalous track record, he stayed tough throughout the contest because of fiery support for his extreme nationalistic agenda. Even after the record of repulsive comments toward women was released, 74 percent of Republicans believed Trump should continue until the end.
Clinton did little to help raise the bar on the campaign. She invited vicious attacks from her opponents for having used her private email server for official communications while serving as the U.S. Secretary of State, some of which had contained classified information.
The mud fight between the two nominees has made a big blemish on the American reputation. Populism and mudslinging has dominated the race. The media also has lost its equilibrium. Some have formed special investigation teams to expose Trump. This year’s presidential election has underscored the extreme divisions in the American society.
Whoever becomes the president will have to consider the divided society in policymaking. Countries modeled after the U.S. system may start to question U.S-style reasoning. We must closely study the political risks and aftermath of the U.S presidential election.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 11, Page 34