By Hunter Crowther
Don’t worry, citizens of Planet Earth: there’s still an Earth.
After 18 months of one of the most toxic presidential campaigns in recent memory, Donald Trump made history Tuesday night by defeating Hillary Clinton and taking the highest office in the land.
Donald J. Trump – the self-proclaimed billionaire who began with his father’s inheritance, who became a household name for his books and TV hosting, who also short-changed the employees he contracted, avoided paying taxes by taking advantage of loopholes, and who oversaturated his surname on a global scale – was a late night talking point for pundits and talking heads, a filler for air-time; then, without notice, became the Republican nominee.
Then there’s Clinton – the Democratic nominee who worked on Richard Nixon’s impeachment inquiry staff in the ‘70s, served as U.S. First Lady during her husband Bill’s presidency, was a New York state senator during 9/11, and served as U.S. Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s first term.
This election came down to: a professional politician in every sense of the word, and a pathological liar whose reputation is based on falsehoods. Much has been made of whether Clinton sent or received classified government documents on a private email server, her coziness with Wall Street, and the growing level of distrust that’s followed her since she entered the public eye.
The polling website FiveThirtyEight, which has correctly predicted all but one state in the last two presidential elections, had given Clinton a 81.5 per cent chance of winning on Election Day.
But after FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers less than two weeks before the vote that a new crop of emails ‘possibly’ related to their investigation of Clinton were found, her numbers plummeted.
Then, on Election Day, FiveThirtyEight gave the Democratic nominee its 71 per cent chance.
Even with Comey coming out Sunday, saying the FBI found nothing in the new emails, the damage was done. Clinton’s ‘untrustworthy’ reputation was withheld.
Clinton is, like almost every human in the history of our existence, flawed. Trump is the epitome of what’s wrong with America.
In nearly every type of election, be it Canada or the U.S., overseas, at the federal, provincial, state or municipal level, there is one constant: regardless of your partisanship, the candidate you didn’t support wasn’t a horrible human being.
When Justin Trudeau became prime minister in Oct. 2015, the ‘Stop Harper’ movement was strong, but at no point was the Conservative leader’s fundamental integrity questioned. During his nine years as PM, despite deep division between the three major Canadian parties, at no moment did women fear to be in Harper’s presence. Mass deportation didn’t cross our minds.
This is different. No one has held as much disregard for minorities, made such casually misogynistic and racist comments, or displayed such obvious insecurities as Trump.
Let’s go over some of the more appalling things he’s done or said, or have happened – in no particular order – since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015.
He said Mexican immigrants “bring crime, drugs,” and that they’re “rapists.”
He said he will build a “great wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it.
He continued to question the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate, going so far as to call his American birth a “fraud.”
He’s said, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her,” wrong in every way imaginable.
He said Arizona Sen. John McCain, who served during the Vietnam War and was a prisoner of war for over five years, was not a war hero. “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
He has repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly refused to release his tax returns, which no Republican candidate has done since President Gerald Ford. A New York Times investigation showed Trump declared a US$916 million loss in 1995, of which it commented, “the figure is so substantial that it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income tax for 18 years.” He is currently under an IRS audit.
Last December, following the San Bernardino terrorist attacks that saw a married Muslim couple kill 14 people, he said, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
At the Democratic National Convention in August, the father of Captain Humayun Khan, a U.S. soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004, spoke about his son and criticized Trump for his proposal of banning Muslims from entering the U.S. The following week, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump said Khan’s wife, “Stood there and had nothing to say, she probably wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”
He’s called for “enhanced interrogation,” going so far as to promise more waterboarding. He also said, in order to defeat ISIS, “You have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.” (This would break the rules of the Geneva Convention, which bans any targeting of people who have no active part in hostilities.)
Last March, he said women who seek an abortion should be subject to punishment. He later recanted, saying only the doctor should receive discipline.
After the first Republican debate in Aug. 2015, when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked how Trump would respond to Clinton saying he was waging a “war on women,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon Kelly, “Had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her… wherever.” He obviously was referring to menstruation.
He has received endorsements from virtually every major white nationalist group in the United States, including an official endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan.
He’s called President Obama and Clinton the “co-founders of ISIS.”
He’s complimented Russian President Vladimir Putin and has shown admiration for Saddam Hussein.
At a campaign stop in North Carolina last August, Trump said Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and that nothing could be done about it, “although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.” Democrats and Republicans perceived it as Trump encouraging violence against Clinton if she was elected.
He accused Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father of involvement in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Audio from a 2005 interview with Trump and Billy Bush show Trump making lewd comments about sexually assaulting women. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything… grab them by the pussy.”
Following the audio leak, multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, including unwanted kissing and groping. In response to one accusation, Trump said, “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”
Since announcing his candidacy, he repeatedly called both the election and media rigged against him.
This is a man who is on the verge of holding the most powerful position in the world.
This isn’t funny anymore. When he announced his candidacy on that June afternoon, the late-night comics and political pundits snickered.
Then he won New Hampshire in the Republican primaries. Then he won several primaries. Then he became the presidential nominee for the Republican party.
Inexplicably, this awful man tapped into a nation’s subconscious, exploiting the darkly embedded misogynistic and racial undertones that have haunted the United States of America since its inception.
He is a man with dozens of allegations of sexual assault, fraud, systemic racism within his organizations, and a level of elitism that, despite his claims otherwise, are unprecedented in the U.S. political sphere. Donald Trump is not a leader in any sense of the world. Now he is the leader of the free world.
And while the world was quick to judge Trump for saying he wouldn’t accept the election results if he lost, they have no choice but to accept the outcome and move forward. Because that’s democracy.