So far, 2016 has been an eventful year, we have had a Holyrood election, an EU referendum and a change of Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the US presidential campaign, which was making headlines long before any of these events took place, continues. The process of whittling down the candidates, always long and drawn out, seems to have taken an eternity on this occasion.
Last week, at long last, there was the Republican National Convention which though overshadowed somewhat by a controversial speech by his wife, saw Donald Trump confirmed as their presidential candidate. This week, it is the turn of the Democratic National Convention, which should see former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially installed as theirs. Of course, the process hasn’t actually taken any longer than it normally does, it is just that thanks to Donald Trump’s considerable gifts as a self-publicist, and Bernie Sanders insistence on fighting to the last, it has featured rather more prominently in our headlines than in the past.
Up until now, these headlines have been dominated by real estate magnate, Mr Trump, to the point where, in the early stages, the battle for the Democratic nomination was all but forgotten by the British media. We are all too familiar with Mr Trump, he has been making lots of noise for years. Here in Scotland the noise has been mostly to do with golf courses and offshore wind farms.
Initially, it was easy to write off Mr Trump’s chances, he was too brash, too ignorant, and too politically inexperienced to stand any real chance of making it onto the Republican ticket, wasn’t he? Apparently not. We should remember that not so long ago, many regarded George W. Bush as too ignorant, and he never lost a presidential election, unlike his father.
Mr Trump has deliberately played to people’s fears, insecurities and prejudices, in much the same way as Vote Leave did in the EU referendum. I believed, going into the referendum, that the majority would be repelled by the naked racism, ignorance and stupidity and so it would prove, if not with the majority of Republican voters, then at least with American voters at large. I was wrong about the referendum and as such, I am no longer confident that Hillary Clinton can see off the man with the comb over.
Part of the problem is that Hillary Clinton fails to inspire in the way that her husband did in 1992 or President Obama did, when he won in 2008, derailing Mrs Clinton’s run in the process. Indeed, Hillary Clinton seems to receive far more hostility than adoration. Her experience as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State should give her a clear advantage, yet they are used to demonstrate that in contrast to Trump, she is a figure of the establishment and of the status quo.
Hillary Clinton is very much a longstanding heavyweight of the Democratic Party and has been widely endorsed by senior figures. Bernie Sanders, her fierce rival for the nomination was unequivocal when he said "Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,". In contrast, Donald Trump is an interloper who has hijacked the Republican Party. The GOP’s hierarchy is noticeably less enthusiastic about being saddled with Trump, despite his popularity with the rank and file.
Defeated nominee Ted Cruz failed to endorse Mr Trump and was roundly booed for it. Mr Cruz and others like him continue to fail to grasp how and why Trump has been successful. As former President Jimmy Carter has said, Trump has "tapped a waiting reservoir there of inherent racism." and as we have seen to our detriment here in the UK, that is a very effective reservoir to exploit. I cannot recall, in my lifetime, another presidential candidate who has been quite so repugnant as Donald Trump. Building walls and banning Muslims should preclude Mr Trump for the White House, yet he appears to have one foot firmly in the door.
Whatever Hillary Clinton’s faults, she is not Donald Trump. She is well versed in the workings of the office of President of the United States and of wider American politics. As First Lady Michelle Obama put it “When you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well informed,".
The inference is clear, Hillary Clinton is steady, measured and well informed, Donald Trump is not. She may not be loved and adored, but Mrs Clinton is, if you like, the lesser of two evils, and she has until November 8th to convince America of that, thereby preventing the horror of a Trump presidency.