It is often said that we are amidst an election with the worst two candidates in history, which is an easy case to make.
In short, we have, on the left, a hawkish, deeply corrupt lifelong politician, that used her charitable foundation for immense personal gain, sold favors while Secretary of State and put sensitive government secrets on an insecure email server for convenience.
The right hasn’t fared much better.
The Republican Party has spewed forth a disrespectful, emotional, inconsistent business tycoon who wants to build an inconsiderately expensive border wall and eliminate immigration from countries of majority Islam – an unprecedented move.
Is the voting public in America getting dumber or is something else going on here? How did we get stuck with these choices?
As soon as both of the candidates were coronated by their parties over the summer, endless ink was spilled trying to figure out how we ended up with these two deeply troubling choices.
Some believe that the endless media coverage of Trump led to his rise. Others think that Clinton’s collusion with the DNC to suppress Bernie Sanders’ campaign led to her victory. I believe that most of the analysis done on the topic has certain merit, but it ignores a basic fact about the American people: we care about celebrities.
Hillary Clinton first rose to prominence on Bill Clinton’s arm as FLOTUS, around the time when Trump was beginning to emerge into the public spotlight as a braggadocious real estate developer.
Americans have been familiar with these brands since the early/mid ‘90s, and thus they have an air of legitimacy in the American psyche; they are societal fixtures. This alone probably was the single biggest contributing factor to their ascent in the 2016 election.
To go into a little more detail, middle and upper-middle class democratic whites (of which there are many) that spend little time grappling with the political process went with Clinton.
Why bother with a no-name, untested candidate like Martin O’Malley or a tax raising socialist like Bernie? Many simply chose Hillary due to her brand power. The perfect storm was born for Clinton to win the nomination.
If someone with enough brand power – like Biden – had stepped into the race, we might have Sanders as a nominee instead. However, something slightly more interesting happened with Trump.
While Bush had a considerable amount of brand power like Trump, cultural conservatives sprung up in support of a candidate who they viewed as a champion to finally tackle the immense corruption in Washington.
Given that Trump has spent his life building his brand as a straight shooting, no nonsense businessman, it’s easy to see how he could pick up the banner for the cause.
His brand power and fame are the primary reasons for his rise.
While much of what has been written about the rise of trump and Clinton has been valid, much of it ignores the simple fact that their strong brands appealed to enough of the nation to get America into this situation.
That is why we are faced with the worst electoral choice in recent memory.