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The 45th Presidential Election: Takeaway thoughts

White Plains, MD - The eighth of November 2016 - the date for the 45th US presidential election is looming, with only one month to go until America casts its votes for the candidate to succeed Barack Obama. There have been many key moments that have vastly contributed to the run up, and that have molded, shaped or destabilized the presidential campaigns.

April 2015 saw two Democratic candidates rise to the stage as Hillary Clinton (12th April) and Bernie Sanders (28th April) announced their running for president. Two remarkably unconventional candidates – one, a woman, and the other a socialist; America seems thirsty for change.

On the 16th June 2015 Donald Trump shocked the world as he joined the presidential race as the Republican representative. At first, the New York businessman’s announcement may have appeared comical and unlikely, but Trump’s steadily increasing support has taken the world by surprise, and what may have initially appeared a joke, now could be a reality.

Trump rallies have been widely broadcast as his supporters get bolder and more confident. Trump’s rise in popularity that has surprised so many can be attributed to America’s desperate want for change, it is undoubtedly fueled by frustration and distrust in the current political system.

Trump is no politician, he speaks plainly, using punchy lines and bold claims, and he very cleverly ends his speeches with slogans that people will remember and talk about. An example being in his immigration speech, he said that “The fundamental problem with the immigration system in our country is that it serves the needs of wealthy donors, political activists and powerful, powerful politicians. It's all you can do […] Let me tell you who it does not serve. It does not serve you the American people.”

You can read more of this speech here. What he does so well in his speech, is that he puts a barrier between himself and ‘powerful politicians’, and puts himself on the side of the Americans who supposedly are having to serve this injustice. He presents himself as part of the people; as someone who feels what America feels, rather than someone who sits and watches it from behind a desk, which as a multi-millionaire businessman is a very interesting stance to take.

What the 45th presidential elections are indicating is that people do not want a traditional candidate to win, they seem to be reaching for change, desperate for a better quality of life. This is plain to see also in the fact that Bernie Sanders, who openly admitted that he is a socialist (something that has been widely feared and protested in America, in particular mainstream American politics) has gained so much support with his campaign to address wealth inequality.

But, what is interesting is that Sanders himself has said that, only in America, in a right wing state, would his politics be seen as socialism, and in reality if he were running for power in Europe, he would be a social democrat, not a socialist.

The thing to take from this, is that as much as right wing politics have been shifting further right, the left has also seen a dramatic change in its move towards left-wing socialist politics. In July 2016 Sanders was out-voted by Clinton supporters, but largely by the Democratic Party itself. Although Sanders is out of the race, his supporters remain active and it is clear that he has left a very firm mark on American politics.

This has left Clinton and Trump to go head to head in the remainder of the election, with Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ against Clinton’s ‘Stronger Together’ slogans. Looking online on who seems to be winning, it seems that Trump’s message is the more effective.

Whilst Clinton focuses her campaign towards women’s rights and racial rights, Trump focuses his on anti-immigration laws and border security. As mentioned the candidates that have presented themselves are very unconventional, or anti-establishment in many ways. 

However, despite Clinton’s efforts to erase her history as Secretary of State and create for herself a new image, one that can reach out to the vulnerable groups in America, there is a shadow of doubt and distrust among many Americans who will not forget Clinton’s political past.

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