By Bhumika Sharma:
July 28, 2016 is history. Not like, how each and everything that has taken place or has happened and each day that is over is past, and thus, in casual terms, is history, but in a manner that is symbolically different. Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, former New York Senator and former Secretary of State created history by officially becoming the first ever woman to be nominated for the President of the United States or as some would say, in a more politically incorrect sense, for the office of the most powerful (wo)man in the free world. This, further created covert possibilities of the world getting to see Bill Clinton as the first ever ‘First Gentleman’. Well, surely a step higher up in the ladder of advancing the feminist cause, among other things.
The four days of the Democratic National Convention were endeavored with fostering the slowly eroding spirit of American idealism, optimism and hope-mongering, in sharp contrast to a certain demagogue’s (read: Donald Trump) continual hate-mongering, in pursuit of the unfortunate goal of acquiring the presidency. This is complimented by the ultra-unfortunate fact of him having made it to the nomination. From one of the last major speeches being delivered by the Obamas that aimed at reinforcing the ideals upon which the country stands – the large-heartedness of the American people and the unending commitment to hard work and advancement- the story, the American Dream, and how Clinton is the most qualified and fit for realising the Dream; to hubby Bill’s nostalgia-driven, personal narrative of the dating experience with his wife, aiming to humanise Hillary’s image, DNC 2016 can be seen as a major assertion of as to why America desperately needs someone like, or rather, Hillary Clinton herself.
But, let’s face it: is Clinton really the best that the White House, or in fact, owing to the not-so-implicit prowess of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the entire world deserves?
The American Presidential election is always a watershed event, considering the complexities of contemporary world politics and the intertwined nature of international relations. But what makes the 2016 polls all the more momentous is the fact that the race this time is between two heavily flawed human beings.
On the one hand, we have an apparently Putin-obsessed, xenophobic rabble-rouser, seasoned in the art of fear-mongering and hate-whipping with the aid of mostly hypothetical and dystopic visions of what the future holds.
Not quite promising, is it? Now consider the alternative.
On the other hand, is an ineffably scandalous face with an infamous biography of piled-up controversies that range from her undertakings in the professional domain to a more intimate and personal life-crisis, resulting from her husband’s extra-marital ventures, or the Lewinsky scandal.
There is the email controversy that sprouted due to her use of a private server while at the State Department and the alleged mishandling of classified information. Moreover, there was the Benghazi incident or the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012 that took away the lives of four Americans and led countless people to raise their brows regarding Clinton’s preparedness as the Secretary of State. Then there is the evergreen image of the Clintons cozying up to big money – it is this chronic experience of decades of scandals that has had fatal consequences and has eroded Hillary of the most quintessential character trait of a popular public servant – her trustworthiness.
The 2008 election was about toppling between feminist sympathies and racist sensitivities, a choice and a question between either the first female President or the first black President- two historic calls of which the American electorate answered the second. This was evidently for good, for what Obama has left behind is an exclusive legacy of brilliant political tactics, a vital characteristic of a strong leader that helped him pull the country out of recession and bring justice home by ordering for the successful assassination of Osama bin Laden, for one and the display of a cornucopia of personal qualities like his ability as an excellent communicator, sheer integrity and good humour to name a few – virtues that will cause not only Americans to miss the Obamas (the First Lady, Michelle as well, who is like the face of tranquility amidst the cacophony of American polity), but the world on a bigger scale. But after all things considered, 2016 seems to be more like choosing the lesser of the two evils. And it is the unfavourability ratings of the two candidates that seem to justify this analogy.
Hillary Clinton might seem to be a plausible possibility relative to Donald Trump’s inscrutable vulgarity, but perhaps not the most inspiring choice for presidency. And the fact that this American political stagnation has resulted in circumstances with no good alternative in place of the two now official nominees is not just saddening, but it might also have far-fetched effects on the world politics.
So in this 21st century world, defined not just by intricately laid down material interconnections but also equally interconnected destinies, it is apparent that what shall be put to test this November, is the American people’s judgement and preference for, as I once read somewhere, the crook over the clown, or vice versa.