PR News 3 minute read
On the 15th October 1992, Bill Clinton spoke directly to a voter in a way a presidential candidate may never have before. In response to a question on the national debt, Clinton demonstrated he knew the impact this had on Main Street America, with tens of millions watching as part of a live TV debate In one simple, passionate, answer to a voter Clinton showed that, not only did he know how ordinary Americans were feeling but that he might well have the solutions to these problems too. He also showed that he cared. His passionately delivered line "I have seen what's happened in this last four years when -- in my state, when people lose their jobs there's a good chance I'll know them by name” was a killer.
Fast forward 24 years and America is - as I write - voting for Bill’s wife, Hillary, or her rival Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States. The contrast between the candidates this year and 24 years ago is stark.
Hillary, unlike her husband in 1992, is part of the political establishment at a time when US politicians have never been so hated. She argues she is the most qualified person ever to run for president (not true by the way that was probably George Bush senior, Bill Clinton’s opponent) which merely underlines this point to those sick and tired of the solutions offered to them by ‘Washington’.
She began her campaign seemingly wanting to focus on the fact she is a she, reminding everyone that she is a woman and using identity politics to try and hide her years as a Washington insider.
She has finished her campaign with a final set of rallies, populated by millionaire celebrities, claiming that she will be a ‘President for all Americans’. In the months in between she has failed to demonstrate she appreciates the difficulties faced by many millions of Americans, let alone offer up solutions, as well as show an unhealthy penchant for privacy above transparency.
Both Clinton and her opponent Donald Trump are poor performers at rallies. Clinton shouts and points into the crowd hoping to make a connection - or at least appear that she has a friend outside the Washington belt-way. Trump on his part is rambling, wilfully ignorant of basic facts, bombastic bordering on racist, seeding rumour and innuendo with his audiences. Trump’s issues with women has been well documented and some of his policies are divisive and potentially damaging to the social fabric of his country.
More broadly Trump’s campaign has had some successes. He has been an insurgent candidate who beat the Republican Party system and has given millions who feel left behind by the American system some hope. Whether this hope is falsely held will be seen if Trump enters the Oval Office next January.
Between them they have produced the most divisive election campaign in history. They are both deeply flawed candidates and easily beatable if faced with a different opponent. They have spent a fortune. Neither has made real and lasting attempts to bridge the gap between their campaign and those that oppose them - often choosing to do the exact opposite. In doing this they may have changed the nature of political discourse in America forever.
Whatever happens today America is as divided as it has been for a very long time. For that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are my Mis-Communicators of the Week.
Mis-Communicators of the Week is written by Edward Staite.