By Hamish MacDiarmid
With just days to go before the election, the variety of scandals surrounding both candidates have only deepened in their complexity and gravity, ensuring that the race has narrowed as we come into the final stretch. Democrats and Republicans have undergone vast changes, with both of their parties’ structures shifting how they will conduct themselves in the future and which groups of the public they will target in order to be successful.
The reason why college students, more than any other group, should be interested in the current election are numerous. Primarily, as has been consistently spouted by both candidates, is that this election IS the most important vote in ages. Older and younger generations, people of all classes, ethnicities, races, cultures and wealth groups agree on at least that much. Furthermore, America being the vast, unstoppable juggernaut of military and economic power that it is, any change in policy will affect the entire sphere of geopolitical events after the results of this election have come in.
Initially, the Democrats were the party of the working class, focusing on social rights in conjunction with supporting minorities rights and the need for larger state intervention to solve the issues paramount in America’s economy. However, in this election they have thrown away the predominantly Caucasian working class in favour of more support from corporate businesses, in conjunction with very progressive values in order to cast their net for a wide base of socially-liberal supporters.
The Republicans, in contrast, were traditionally the party of limited government and strong social values that were backed up with the support of business and religion. This year, they have swooped in on the working class vote and become, at least in the stances of their nominee, more socially liberal. Trump stating that he would be open to legalizing marijuana—in conflict with Hillary’s private position—as well as the numerous socially-liberal pitfalls that Mr. Trump dodged during his primary run, such as his former Democrat status and his apparent openness to ideas such as gay marriage and pro-choice decisions, have pushed Republican rhetoric further to the left.
Despite his supporters being socially conservative, he also appears to have opposing private and public positions, much like Mrs. Clinton, as was revealed in her speeches to Wall Street employees. The irony is this: Clinton is supported largely by the socially liberal from all wealth and class backgrounds, while she comes across as a neo-liberal hawk with leanings towards social conservatism, as evidenced by her speeches and previous policies. Trump is largely supported by the socially conservative and those with the traditionalist mind-set. It is likely that his ‘New York’ values mean Trump is likely the most socially liberal Republican in some time. Thus, both candidates seem to have switched their original, private ideology to something more in line with the public appearance of their party. In fact, I wonder had Trump been a Democrat, and Hillary a Republican, if this election year would have been as abnormal.
The issues for both parties, regardless of who wins, is their current ideological movement. The Republicans now have a Caucasian working-class voter base; however, come 2020 it is likely that demographically the electoral map will have undergone a massive change. If Trump replicates his primary comeback wins, wins on Tuesday, and initiates his immigration policies, it is still likely that this will occur. The policies could fail; furthermore, it is more likely that they would be blocked by the universal hatred both parties’ elites have for the Apprentice star. Regardless, the Republican coalition which would have won them the 2016 election is likely to be much smaller by the next election. Furthermore, the Democrats would then be motivated to run a socially liberal candidate with heavily progressive taxation policies (think Bernie) to correct what they would see as mistakes of Trump’s presidency.
The problem facing the Democrats is a more intricate one, and is mainly focused on their branding. If Hillary is able to dodge the FBI until November 8th and win the election, she is likely to place socially progressive policies at the front of the party come 2020, as per her campaign promises. No matter her personal positions, I believe Hillary will institute progressive policies if elected to ensure she will receive a second term in the White House. Regardless, the Democrats may face serious motivation issues for their base. Their main problem is that if the Democrats win decidedly on gay rights, abortion, and the 2ndAmendment in the Supreme Court—which they will if the Clinton Administration chooses the next justices—there is virtually no reason to vote for Democrats again if you belong to the progressive net they courted in 2016. The social positions they fight for will largely have been achieved, and the traditional Republican ideologies will be all but banished from mainstream political discourse. Truthfully, if there is an economic crisis facing America, regardless of victories on social issues, voters are likely to choose a candidate that embodies economic decisions only available to the Republicans.
Personally, I am under the assumption that whoever wins the 2016 election will be a one-term president unless the victor can drastically change public opinion on their personality. Hillary will be even more hated by 2020 by the Republican Party, and you can be sure that their next candidate will be well-vetted and obtain the support of the entire party, to avoid another Trump. Trump himself will be reviled if he institutes his policies, and the Democrats could easily pull in moderates and progressives by showcasing his flaws through the media, and if he fails to go through with his promises, his supporters may desert him.
I will not call the election just yet, despite the right saying Hillary is headed for jail and the left saying Trump is headed for the Roger Ailes club. Trump is always full of surprises, and if we have learnt one thing about him this election, it is to not underestimate Trump—otherwise you will be left wondering how he swung the win. His many scandals and controversies do not affect his core voter base who I can assure you will go out on November 8th regardless of whether he is going to Make America Great or doom it. Hillary, despite her emails and Weiner’s, wants the win badly, and she won’t take the L no matter what. She lost to Obama back in ’08 and has been waiting for her turn. Despite her low favourability and indictment-worthy scandals, be sure that her supporters to come out strong on November 8th. “Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favour.” ― Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games