CHENNAI, India, 26 August 2016
While the pledged admirers of the Democratic and Republican parties in the US will vouch for their respective candidates in the forthcoming US presidential election, the majority of Americans who do not have any particular affiliation for any political party are in a quandary. Such non-attached Americans whose vote will decide the next president, realise that they have a difficult choice to make.
Obviously, there are several reasons to be critical about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, whose credentials for the top job are being scrutinised by the discerning public.
Campaign against Trump
So far, it appears that the campaign against Donald Trump has been largely carried out by a major section of the American media, showing him as a maverick, as a war monger, as a racist and what not.
Trump himself has significantly contributed to his negative image and provided adequate fodder for the critical media, by making sharp comments on media, journalists, and even women.
Such remarks and sharp utterances of Trump made even neutral observers wonder as to why Trump conducted himself in a way that brought him ridicule. The surprise was even more, since Trump has been a successful businessman, and successful business people are known to exercise caution and diplomacy in their public behaviour and expressions.
While pledged admirers of Trump may claim that Trump made many unusual and controversial observations to draw the world attention to himself and win the nomination of the Republican party by posing himself as a hawk and the admirers terming this a calculated strategy, many may not agree with such apologetic explanations.
In any case, it appears to be true that Trump has created fear amongst the minorities, immigrants, African-Americans, and American citizens of overseas origin, making some observers conclude that Trump will lose a chunk of their votes.
Is Hillary Clinton placed any better?
Finding the controversy surrounding Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and her supporters must have thought that it would be a cake walk for her to the White House. Will it be so ?
While there are criticisms about the lacklustre performance of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the activities of the Clinton Foundation is really hanging like Damocles sword over her.
In spite of a nearly friendly media, Clinton could not prevent an impression fast gaining ground that the Clinton Foundation was helped by her to get donations from abroad while she was holding the position of Secretary of State. People are very curious about the news that large contributions from Government rulers and foundations in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have filled the coffers of the Clinton Foundation.
Further, Bill Clinton, the former US President, was reported to have received over five million US dollars in consultancy fees between 2010 and 2014 from the Dubai-based GEMS, run by an Indian.
While Bill Clinton has announced his dissociation with the foundation and Hillary Clinton has denied that there were quid pro quo arrangements with donors while she was Secretary of State, the very fact that the foundation has announced a virtual winding up of her involvement in the foundation if Hillary were to become President, only has contributed to strengthen the suspicions.
The challenge before Hillary Clinton right now is that she has to prove that she is honest and has high scruples. It appears that she is yet to do this convincingly before the American voters.
What choice for American voters?
It appears that many Americans would be more comfortable with a war monger and arm twister rather than a person who is yet to convincingly state that she has not misused her position as Secretary of State and that the Clinton Foundation with which she has a relationship is above board.
Whatever may be the standards of morals in the personal life of an American, they would expect the American president to be a person with values. One can recall how President Bill Clinton was humiliated and was about to be impeached due to his relationship with his staff, in spite of his excellent stewardship of American economy.
Of course, now Trump is trying to erase his negative image by admitting that he should have been more circumspect, and also by changing his campaign chairman.
However, there is no doubt that Trump’s claim that he would wipe out “ISIS terrorists” and make America free from the “terrorist threat” has impressed many of the unattached electorate. His call to check the flow of immigrants into America to protect employment for natives has also touched many people positively.
With fear of “ISIS terrorism” uppermost in the mind of American citizens, one may tend to think that Trump will have the last laugh, as American voters may prefer a warmonger over a soft-spoken person who is yet to prove convincingly that her association with the Clinton Foundation is aboveboard.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice For The Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.