- 18 Oct 16
The Republican candidate is damaging both himself and the US electoral system with his ever more absurd utterances.
The series of scandals that have marred Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign over the past few weeks appear to have inflicted fatal damage on his hopes of seizing the Oval Office. However, as North Carolina resident Logan Angel reports, the candidate’s desperate flailing to save his dying hopes is setting all manner of dangerous precedents in US politics.
High level members of the American Republican Party have hoped that their Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, would change gears toward a more nuanced, policy based approach to the campaign. With three weeks to go, any hope that Trump would be less “Trump” have been squashed. Instead, he has kicked it into high gear, spewing more inflammatory rhetoric than ever before.
On October 7, The Washington Post published leaked video footage from 2005 of a conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush, a correspondent of Access Hollywood at the time. In the tape, Trump claimed to having tried and failed to “fuck” a married woman, saying he “moved on her like a bitch.” He then went on to say that he automatically tries to kiss beautiful women, not even waiting [presumably for permission]. His justification is that he’s a star, so he can do anything [without consequence]. He brags about grabbing them “by the pussy,” before the two step off the bus.
It was the leak heard round the world. Many predict it was the final nail in the coffin that is the Trump campaign, sinking whatever flimsy chance he stood at taking the nomination. With likely no hope of winning, Donald Trump has not geared up to lose with grace, but to explode, taking as many with him.
The real estate CEO has had a history of disdain for free speech and due process, particularly with regards to people who criticise him and people he is critical of. Those who said to have rubbed him the wrong way were often met with threats of lawsuits, some carried out, some not. During the second debate, he hit a new low, suggesting that if he was president, “[Hillary] would be in jail.” To further this notion, he said, as President, that he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton emails. This demonstrates Trump’s willingness to overstep his theoretical limits should he become president, whose judicial powers are supposed to be limited to pardoning convicted criminals.
Following the second debate, Trump has demonstrated that he’s more Trump than before. The man himself championed his shift to full frontal Donald by tweeting “the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.” This was two days after the debate. He followed this up by attacking the Republicans who abandoned him in droves following the video leak, calling them “more difficult than Crooked Hillary.” Most notably, he has criticised Paul Ryan’s refusal to vocalise his support. Ryan, the speaker of the House of Representatives and default spokesperson for the GOP, was called “weak and ineffective” by Trump. While technically not wrong, such attacks only help weaken the credibility of the party he represents as their candidate. While Ryan will no longer defend Trump or appear at his campaigns, he still hasn’t pulled his support for the nominee.
In addition to his own party, Trump has attacked the electorate system, calling it “rigged”. Such accusations are meant to undermine the democratic process by which the American people choose their president. With American elections, voters poll in each state, and each state is represented by the majority vote, which then gets processed into the Electoral College. Each state gets a set number of electoral votes, and all the votes count for one party, regardless of the width of margin between the majority and minority of voters.
So, if Florida had 54% of voters vote for Clinton and 46% of voters vote for Trump, all 29 of the state’s electoral votes would go to Clinton, even though the popular vote only represents a little more than one half of the total votes counted. Though the system is not without scrutiny, voters have mostly put their trust into that. For the first time, a major candidate has called into question the electoral system, claiming that the system is rigged against him. Such claims are baseless, but that matters little to his die-hard fan base. Such attacks could erode trust in the democracy, at least amongst those followers.
Previous candidates who lost did so gracefully, assuring their voters that they lost fair-and-square, because it’s understood that politicians have a responsibility to reassure their voters that things aren’t broken. Donald Trump, an outsider to the political system, is used to doing things his own way. It may be that he can’t fathom a scenario where he would lose, or he may just be incendiary because that’s who he is. Probably both. While politicians of the past have made claims of voter fraud costing them the election, none have so publicly and so loudly called into doubt the electoral system.
In the wake of the video leak, several women have come forward claiming that the mogul inappropriately touched and kissed them without their permission. At the time of this writing, ten different women have told their stories to various publications. The timeline of these accounts stretch as far back as the early ’80s to 2013. Most of these have been met with swift rebuttals Trump and his campaign staff. The New York Times, who published Rachel Crooks’ account, was met with a letter from Trump’s lawyer threatening legal action for libellous slander.
The GOP candidate and his campaign have made dismissals of the various accusations laid against him, whether by tweet, a news interview, or a campaign rally. Of particular note, one woman claimed that Trump groped her while both were sitting in first class on an airplane. At a rally in Greensboro, NC, he stated, “She would not be my first choice,” implying that he would not go after her based on her looks. The woman in question released a photo of her from around that time because she knew that her looks would be called into question.
These actions are meant to highlight Trump’s actions following the leak. What we’ve seen is nothing new, given his behavior since declaring his bid for the Presidency. The good news is that his chances of winning the election look slimmer everyday. The bad news is, he looks determined to cause as much damage as possible on his way down.