The U.S. presidential race has taken an increasingly aggressive tone. The two main protagonists – Clinton and Trump – have been trading insults that would be inconceivable among politicians in Germany. “Hillary has to go to jail”, demands Trump. His calls relate specifically to the false statements repeatedly made by Clinton in relation to her so-called “Emailgate Scandal”.
For weeks now, Trump has only ever used Clinton’s name in combination with the epithet “corrupt”: “Crooked Hillary”. In doing so, he is also playing on the controversy surrounding donations made to the Clinton Foundation, along with her enormous Wall Street speaking fees. Trump recently released an attack ad featuring a tear-choked woman detailing how she was raped by Bill Clinton. In his speeches, Trump regularly refers to Bill Clinton as “rapist”. Trump’s supporters justify the way in which Hillary Clinton’s husband has been dragged into the election campaign by pointing to the fact that Hillary Clinton herself has said that Bill would help to formulate her economic policy if she makes it to the White House.
Matching Trump, Hillary Clinton has also adopted a much more aggressive tone. She now refers to Trump as “Dangerous Donald” or “Fraudulent Donald”. She has seized on the legal troubles engulfing his defunct “Trump University”, and has referred to his real estate school as nothing short of a “scam”.
America is clearly more used to no-holds barred election campaigns than Europe. But never before, even here in the USA, has one candidate seriously threatened to send one of their opponents to jail.
There has also been an uptick in violent clashes on the fringes of Trump’s rallies, with left-wing extremists burning the stars and stripes flag and attacking Trump’s supporters. Rather than hurting Trump, these scuffles actually seem to be strengthening him. Confronted by protesters burning the US flag and waving the Mexican flag, his supporters told the anti-Trump mob to get out of the USA and go back to Mexico.
The Republican party establishment has so far been maintaining a decidedly low profile. After holding out for months, Paul Ryan, House Speaker and Republican leader of the House of Representatives, has finally “endorsed” Trump. Still, he didn’t announce his endorsement during an official press conference – as is the accepted procedure – rather he chose to make his announcement in an article in a local newspaper. And he didn’t say that he would actively campaign for Trump, just that he will vote for him. Ryan’s endorsement was hardly full-blooded, and he made it clear that he supports Trump only as the best alternative to Clinton.
In the Democrat camp, divisions between Hillary Clinton and the left-wing populist Sanders have intensified. Although Sanders, a self-confessed socialist, isn’t going to secure his party’s nomination, he has still had a decisive influence on the campaign. And it’s not just Clinton who has drifted to the left of the political spectrum; even Trump has been forced to adopt left-wing positions on a range of issues. After all, Trump’s major focus is on picking up supporters from Sanders, in preparation for his head-to-head battle with Clinton for the presidency.
Then, just a few days ago, Obama called for an expansion of Social Security benefits – despite the country’s enormous budget deficit. And nobody even challenged him. Each of the three remaining presidential candidates has declared their support for an expansion of Social Security, which, of course, is not something that sits at all well with traditionally free-market oriented Republicans. Apparently, the election battle is now just about who can win over a majority of Sanders’ young, anti-capitalist supporters.