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Presidential paralysis: why neither Hillary nor Trump are good news for America

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

With the US elections now less than 6 months away, the world is transfixed by the race for the White House. Even though neither the Democrats nor Republicans have nominated a candidate yet, the likely candidates for the final contest in November will almost certainly be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

However, despite the two candidates enjoying mammoth leads over their rivals in the primaries, they're strongly polarising figures. A lot of this stems from their track records because, while both candidates are beloved by their core support groups, a lot of what they've done in the past is enough to make any rational-minded person think twice.

Read: 'The Onion' can't run satire on Hillary Clinton anymore. Readers have this man to thank

While Clinton, at least on the surface, seems like a relatively inoffensive - and in fact actively desirable candidate, the reality is far from it. Even as she continues to slug it out with Bernie Sanders in the primaries, Clinton could well find herself out of the race altogether, thanks to an ongoing federal investigation.

The investigation she faces is the result of her indiscretions as US Secretary of State, where, because of her position, she was privy to multiple classified emails. Despite the confidential nature of some of these mails, Clinton re-routed her official mails to a private server and a private email ID, compromising their secrecy.

The matter came to light when she was asked to hand over her emails for archival purposes. Allegedly, even during this handover, Clinton vetted and deleted emails, something that lends to the claims of her political rivals that she had something to hide. Clinton however, rejects any claims of wrongdoing, even claiming that some of the confidential emails were only made confidential retroactively. Further, at the time, she was not legally bound to use a government email.

Despite this, her critics are firm that as Secretary of State, she shouldn't have had such a lax approach to matters of national security. While the investigation into this is unlikely to result in a formal indictment given the Clintons' uncanny ability to weather political storms, it doesn't help improve the public perception of Hillary's handling of national security. This is something that goes as far back as 2012.

In 2012, a US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by a mob leading to the death of an American ambassador as well as other officials. Initially the US tried to play this off as a spontaneous uprising in response to a video. It later emerged that the attack may have actually been planned.

Hillary, who, as Secretary of State, was responsible for the security arrangements for the mission was accused of negligence and ignoring intelligence reports. She was even subjected to an investigation by a house committee though no wrongdoing was proved.

Also read: #USElection: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton almost seal the deal

Clinton has also been on the receiving end of criticism for her alleged ties to big banks. In 2013, she received US $675,000 for 3 speaking engagements with Goldman Sachs alone. These sort of engagements aren't unheard of. In fact, between her husband Bill and her, they raked in over US $150 million in speaking engagements. What does rankle about the Goldman Sachs transaction though, are the circumstances under which she did so.

The fact that she felt comfortable taking an obscene amount of money from a company that had just been a major cause of a financial meltdown and subsequent bailout with taxpayer money is ethically dubious to say the least.

The Trump Card

On the other side of the presidential race, Trump is a man who has not only alienated Democrats, but also members of his own party. While his initial announcement for presidency was met with laughs from most people, his campaign has been successful to the point where he has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination for the presidential race.

And that's supremely worrying, because Trump's statements since he announced his presidential bid have been anything but reassuring.

Read more- Watch: Donald Trump's bizarre new ad has Hillary Clinton 'barking like a dog'

In fact, it began only minutes into his presidential candidacy announcement. Trump, flanked by his family, took aim at the US' southern neighbour Mexico. In a bigoted tirade he accused Mexicans of being thieves, rapists and drug-peddlers. He also announced his intention to build a wall along the US Mexico border to keep Mexicans out. Yes, Donald Trump bases his immigration policy on the Great Wall of China.

Not content with infuriating the entire Latino population in the US, Trump then turned his gaze towards Muslims. In December 2015, Trump called for a ban on all Muslims travelling to the US. Just recently, he claimed that this was only a "suggestion", but that makes it no less abhorrent. Trump even suggested starting a separate government database to keep track of Muslims to curb terror.

Even women haven't been spared from Trump's belligerence. During a Republican primary debate Trump refused to distance himself from misogynistic comments he'd made about women in the past. After the anchor, Megyn Kelly, had grilled him on the topic, Trump insinuated in a later interview that she was probably on her period and even called her a bimbo on social media.

The African-American community has also been the recipient of various Trump-isms. He once even said that "Laziness is a trait in blacks." Still, Trump has reiterated multiple times that he has a great relationship with the African-American community, a claim that's dubious at best because he doesn't do much to prove it. In fact, when news came out that David Duke, a prominent member of the Ku Klux Klan, was a Trump supporter, Trump refused to reject his support, instead beating around the bush and feigning ignorance.

If Trump actually ends up being the Republican nominee, his brashness and lack of diplomacy could end up alienating the party's supporters and this has the Republican top brass worried. That arguably the world's most powerful nation might soon be ruled by a man like Trump is a really worrying thought.

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First published: 12 May 2016, 10:17 IST
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.