I feel the need to preface this with the following statement: This is my first election and I wish it was not. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous right? But for full transparency, I have to admit that I'm not entirely fond of any of the candidates. I have no love for Trump. I have only indifference for Clinton. Heck, I don't even think I ever felt the Bern. I guess why I'm trying to say this is because my indifference to this election makes it all the harder to follow the election coverage. In fact, it will make my vote me picking the lesser of two evils.
The 2016 presidential election, though, in and of itself is historical. Hillary Clinton, as of this week, is now the first female to ever accept the nomination of a major political party for US president. These are crazy times we live in right? Especially, since Clinton's opponent is Donald Trump, a dilettante of sorts in the political arena.
Now that the two major parties have had their nominating conventions, I think it is only fair we try to talk about them as objectively as possible. (I apologize in advance for an bias I may accidentally present against either party or candidate.)
The Republican National Convention
Taking place in Cleveland, the Republican National Convention or RNC brought to the forefront the strengths and weaknesses of both the G.O.P. and their nominee Trump.
Day One appeared to focus on current racial and law-enforcement tensions facing minorities and police departments throughout the United States. With speakers like Rudy Giuliani, the party and convention took issue with the Black Lives Matter movement, arguing that the sentiment behind the movement itself was unfounded for. Moreover, the convention held the position, as uttered by Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, of Blue Lives Matter, a clear attempt at de-emphasizing one social justice movement by creating another. It is important to note that this day within the convention held bias simply due to the lack of diversity and representation among the convention attendees and the delegates, as seen by only 18 black delegates out of the near 2500 of them.
Day Two proved notable in that it once again focused on what the Republican party called the anarchy of the Black Lives Matter movement. There were also attempts at unification with minorities that have previously taken issue with nominee Trump's statements. This was seen by Harmeet Dhillon leading the convention in a Sikh prayer. It also appeared to be a day centered around attacking Hillary Clinton's credentials, policy plans, and character. Further, everyone including Trump's own son chose to focus less on Trump's political ambitions and more on what they consider his keen business acumen.
Day Three was Mike Pence's time to shine in the spotlight, his formal acceptance of the Republican nomination for VP. In fact, it was basically Pence's time to introduce himself as a viable running mate and counter part for Trump in the 2016 election. While the Pence show was what was expected, Day Three of the RNC turned out to be Ted Cruz's time to throw a quasi-coup. Cruz throughout his speech at a convention to nominate Donald Trump for president instead chose to not endorse the man. In fact, Cruz chose to rather appeal to the American people to vote for anyone at all whose platform they believed in (Does this qualify as G.O.P. solidarity or is mocking Trump? I haven't figured out my take on it yet). Of course, in a convention where the Trumpeters are loud and proud, Cruz found himself getting boo-ed continuously throughout his speech. This night also included a slightly rousing speech from Newt Gingrich, one in which he focused on "making America safe again".
Day Four, what can I say about it other than it was the day Trump and Trump supporters were waiting for. In fact, it was very much the pinnacle of the Republican National Convention with its theme of making America one again. Trump's speech was essentially everything you ever expected it to be. It was a combination of fear-mongering, harping on terrorist threats, law and order threats, and economic threats. In fact, a bit of the ways into the speech I have to admit that I was more than a little frightened.
I am linking Donald Trump's acceptance speech because whether or not you support him or want Hillary or Gary to win, it is a must watch political-literacy-wise.
Day Four was also the day that the RNC and G.O.P. attempted to attract LGBTQIAA supporters, bringing onto the stage Peter Thiel, an openly gay Republican. Moreover, this day also tried to focus on the purportedly beneficial policies of Trump with regards to gender equality, something his daughter Ivanka tried to continuously raise in her speech.
As a whole, I feel like the Republican National Convention did its job of reinvigorating the parts of the G.O.P. base that are behind Trump. It also appeared to be successful in its theatrics and garnering of attention. I feel where it fell flat is its treatment of minority rights (race, gender, and sexual orientation). It appeared that the G.O.P. and Trump were making an attempt, but after the entire primary process said attempt just did not feel genuine (at least to me).
The Democratic National Convention
If I'm being honest, the first thing I think of when I think of this year's DNC is the sheer star power it had in comparison to the RNC. Well, that and the fact that the stage was much more muted than the stage at the RNC
It's unfortunate that the first day of the DNC had horrible public relations due to the mass email leak of members of the Democratic National Committee, something that forced DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to actually resign from her position. In fact on Day 1, Schultz was actually boo-ed off the stage.
The first day of the DNC was powerful though, just perhaps not in the way the DNC wanted. Simply put, there was just a heck of a lot of booing. It seemed like every speaker was getting boos, whether they wanted them or not. Notably, Bernie Sanders got booed because his supporters did not want to stop feeling the Bern, proving to essentially refuse to vote for Clinton. It is important to mention though that the majority of Bernie Sanders fans are willing to vote for Hillary Clinton, especially if it means we do not get a Trump presidency. Moreover, the first day of the DNC also talked about policy strides in immigration. My favorite part of this day was Michelle Obama's speech, a speech that did what the rest of the night could not, unify and garner hope. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it yet.
Day Two of DNC is when Hillary Clinton made history. I still am in complete shock that it took 240 years to get the first female presidential nominee for a major political party. Get it together America. We're older than lots of countries who have already had female presidents and prime ministers and we only just got a nominee? Ridiculous. Anyways, there was more mentioning of reinvigorating the Sanders supporters, except this time for Hillary. Moreover, this was the night of good old Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. It was also the night in which the DNC addressed the Black Lives Matter movement and gun violence, two issues that seem to be hitting closer and closer to home for the American conscious. Overall, this night was very policy oriented, especially gearing towards fighting for the right to live.
I'm going to be very up front about this. I was most excited for this night, day 4 of the DNC, out of all the nights in both conventions. Obama speeches are always powerful but Joe Biden speeches, those are just something else entirely. While I might not agree with everything he says, I just love the way Biden says it. It's a bit unfortunate though that this was supposed to be Tim Kaine's day to shine as the VP nominee. The man is a very simple candidate and was forcibly overshadowed by the charisma of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Also taking the stage was Michael Bloomberg, a man of New York and of the people. His presence on the DNC stage was a clear pull for independent voters, the electoral group who seems to be increasingly swaying to Gary Johnson. This night was all about hope, history, and the future: motifs that were represented throughout the night.
Finally came the last night of the national conventions: Day 4 of the DNC, the night Hillary Clinton accepted her historic nomination. With the powerful theme given by the DNC of Stronger Together, HRC took a strong stance in her speech, especially after a heartwarming speech from her daughter Chelsea. The cynical part of me thinks that Chelsea Clinton's speech was to feminize Hillary Clinton and make her seem every bit the proud mother and grandmother. As a whole, nominee Clinton's speech went the opposite route of Trump's, focusing on eliminating fear rather than bringing it about.
What Have We Got To Look Forward To
This election is going to be a three-ring circus, no, four-ring carnival show, compared to elections in previous years. Never in my lifetime has an election garnered such fervor and such un-favorability concurrently. While I genuinely hope there is minimal mudslinging, I know those hopes have already been dashed by Trump's odd remarks and nicknames to Clinton's constant focus on why we as an electorate should not be voting for her opponent. I guess it is very idealistic of me, but I just want an election where we focus on policy and capability and less on pomp and circumstance. But yes, I know that is obviously asking too much of the media, the politicians, the campaigns, and the electorate.
What I do know for certain is I am not looking forward to casting my vote for a candidate who has yet to convince me to believe in him/her. I just know it is my civic duty to try to help America better itself.