THE BLOG

Five Things You (Might) Have Missed In The US Election Cycle

11/11/2016 12:49

Coverage of this election has been ubiquitous, there's been plenty of scandal, but here is a few interesting points that you might have missed amongst all the other drama.

Hillary Clinton was passed questions for debate with Bernie Sanders during primary

While the furore over the FBI's reopening of its investigations into the Clinton e-mails may have cost the candidate some vitally important points in the last few weeks, there have been no dramatic revelations as yet, and indeed the FBI has clarified that it does not foresee any prosecutions arising. But a revelation that was seemingly drowned out in the recent fireworks was the discovery that incoming Democratic Party Chair Donna Brazille had, in her capacity as commentator on CNN during the presidential primaries, passed debate questions to Hillary Clinton's team. Was this revelation downplayed by the media in the hope that it wouldn't deter Bernie Sanders voters from turning up for Clinton at this key moment?

Nobody is quite sure what Trump's Russia policy will be, and that's a problem.

It is commonly acknowledged within policy wonk circles that Donald Trump has pulled off a fairly surprising feat in getting to within touching distance of the White House while producing almost nothing that looks recognisably like a policy platform. Take his Russia policy for instance, he has at times threatened to shoot down Russian aircraft in Syria, and at others times presented himself as cosy-ing up to Putin to fight ISIS. Not even his running mate can keep track, with Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence appearing to publically disagree with Trump and call for a tougher stance on Russia in Syria, a move Trump seemed to dismiss openly when asked about it during the final debate. This would seem like an unprecedented level of internal contradiction, but perhaps par for the course in this bizarre election.

Even Chelsea Clinton was aware of problems with the Clinton foundation

One of the areas that Republicans have targeted in their attempts to portray Hillary Clinton as an untrustworthy figure is through the activities of the Clinton Foundation. The charity was established during the couple's first stint in the White House and contributes to a number of environmental and development programmes. Critics have maintained it is something of a slush fund for the Clinton political dynasty, accepting donations in return for political access. This characterisation has been challenged by many prominent democrats, and while there hasn't been any revelations that go much beyond questionable practice, it has recently surfaced that even Chelsea Clinton had taken issue with some of the foundations dealings. Specifically relating to conflicts of interest and the influence of outside money. Again, hard to see the fire here, but the Clinton foundation has generated a huge amount of smoke throughout the course of this election cycle.

Trump's tax avoidance is one thing, his tax proposals are another

In what seems like a very long time ago in this election cycle, but was actually only a few weeks- we discovered that Donald Trump lost an eye watering amount of money in the 1990's (some $900 Million plus) and due to some very forgiving legislation in the US, hasn't had to pay much in the way of tax ever since. This somehow hasn't discouraged his proponents from celebrating his business acumen. But tax is a delicate issue in American politics, business persons can be vaunted for flaunting their avoidance, but it would seem positively reckless for a presidential candidate to do this while courting the vote of teachers, nurses and service personal who contribute a substantial portion of their salary to the national coffers. Regardless, Trump's lack of tax contributions are only part of the story, the few details we have about his proposals for tax reform indicates he also intends to expand tax breaks that directly benefit both himself and his heirs. That's some brass (or tangerine) neck.

Is Trump's entire electoral bid a publicity stunt for a new media channel?

At many points in this campaign, commentators have questioned the sincerity of Donald Trump's bid for the White House. The sheer unexpectedness of his victory, his steamrolling of opponents in the primaries despite his lack of his experience raised a number of questions. Key amongst them was whether the success could all really be attributed to the candidate, or whether it was more a case of protest vote from the base of the party. While Trump's lack of script or traditional rehearsed political dialogue is, for those who like him, part of his appeal, the lack of any kind of recognisable policy programme has made many observers wonder how serious the campaign was ever meant to be. Some have posited that the entire campaign was an attempt to reinvigorate the stalling Trump 'brand' and to generate the investment necessary for a significant expansion of his media empire. Recently Trump's son in law has discussed plans for Trump TV, working with other right wing media organisations to create a news channel in the style of Fox. Huge amounts of capital would be required for such a project, one would need to be sure of a dedicated audience before starting...get your tinfoil hats here.

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