Donald Trump is a disaster.
Let me be abundantly clear about that.
He represents a decaying breed of anti-intellectual American exceptionalism lashing out as it comes to realize that it is fundamentally incompatible with an increasingly globalized society.
Trump emboldens the white supremacist, xenophobic values at the heart of American jingoism that keeps the foreigner at arm’s length, so as to maintain its intentionally ignorant worldview.
I say all this as a preface for my larger point:
The damage has already been done. This can’t all be fixed by Trump losing the election. Not even in a landslide. Overt racism has returned to the mainstream in a manner not seen for decades. The country is, somehow, an even more dangerous place for minorities of all sorts.
But, perhaps most catastrophically, Trump has set a precedent: campaigns can be run with relative success without presenting even a single consistent, substantial policy.
It is well documented that Trump’s “positions” – I hesitate to refer to them as such because it implies genuine belief, something Trump seems incapable of – flip-flop left and right. But what’s more concerning is this: the entire campaign season has gone by without examining much, if any, of Hillary Clinton’s policies.
The wave of anti-Trump sentiment that seems to be prevailing has allowed Clinton to gain the support of the majority without much of a second thought given to her actual policies. All this election has demanded of Clinton is that she not be a grotesque, openly racist demagogue, a bar so low it’s almost baffling that this is the criteria by which we are electing a candidate to the highest office in the country.
Rather than defeating the Republicans on the basis of actual platform, Hillary is simply acting the cooler cucumber. The question of whether or not she is qualified to take the White House has been reduced to sensationalist witch hunts over deleted e-mails and speculation over her connection to Benghazi. Not to suggest that these issues are irrelevant to the question of her electability, but they should not be, and cannot be, the sole basis on which criticism of Clinton is being leveled.
What are Clinton’s actual policies? They aren’t some sort of cosmic mystery; her official website hosts a fairly comprehensive rundown of her positions and plans. The issue here isn’t that Clinton lacks policies, but that they have become largely irrelevant to whether or not she wins this election. Nobody is really talking about these policies because the entire nation has been sucked into the vortex of Trump’s media circus. In an obvious move, the Clinton campaign has morphed into what is essentially just the “Get Donald Campaign,” using public disdain for the opposing candidate as a smokescreen to slide into power without being held accountable to genuine public scrutiny.
This is dangerous. A candidate who seizes the Oval Office on the basis of unearned goodwill poses a threat to the country in coming years. Clinton, specifically, has a disturbing track record on foreign policy. Her self-admitted role in the 2009 Honduran coup is more than enough to give any conscientious voter pause. Her hawkish, imperialist actions abroad suggest a worldview diametrically opposed to genuinely progressive, liberal thinking. That a candidate with such a history of support for warmongering and international violence could win the presidential election on the ticket for what’s meant to be the left-wing party should be unthinkable. Yet, here we are.
Whether or not he wins or loses, Trump has changed the game in terms of what it means to be a candidate for the office of POTUS. We are in his world now, and in his world policy is irrelevant, it all comes down to big talk and posture. Even if (when?) Hillary wins this election come November, it’ll be hard to celebrate her victory with the bar sunk so very low.
Andrew Allen is a senior majoring in communications. Upon Further Review runs alternate Thursdays.
Featured image courtesy Pixabay user quinntheislander