Despite all this negative campaigning, what lies underneath is an incredibly progressive election in many respects.
AUSTIN, Texas – The 2016 race for the White House has seen some of the dirtiest politics America has witnessed, from questions over Donald Trump’s ‘manhood’, to the debate over Ted Cruz’s citizenship. All of this negativity has shielded how progressive this election actually is, and how almost all the nominees will be some category of ‘first’ for America. Despite all this negative campaigning, what lies underneath is an incredibly progressive election in many respects.
On the Republican side, we have Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants to the USA. If successful, just like Ted Cruz, he would become the first Latino President of the USA. In addition to this, unlike the UK where Prime Minister’s wives can take either a public or private role, First Ladies in the USA are very active in public life. Michelle Obama during her time as First Lady has launched ‘Lets Move!’ – an initiative aimed at combating childhood obesity, campaigned heavily during Obama’s 2012 re-election and has travelled globally on trips of diplomacy. It is not unusual to hear questions at debates from the audience regarding ‘What type of First Lady would your wife be?’ to candidates. Regarding Rubio, his wife is of Colombian descent and would therefore become another first – the first Latino First Lady.
Trump has also encouraged another set of ‘firsts’ for America – the Washington Post has accredited him for record-breaking turnout in Republican primaries. Whether this is due to hatred or love for his politics, a decline in voter apathy is good for American democracy. Trump’s wife Melania would also be the first foreign-born First Lady since John Quincy Adam’s British wife back in the 1800s. Whilst she is not a ‘first’ per say, she would be the first foreign-born First Lady in many American’s lifetimes.
On the Democratic side, we have Hillary Clinton who would be the first female president of the USA. Mirroring this, she would simultaneously create the first ‘First Man’ of the United States – Bill Clinton. However, there is no existing official title for what the husband of a female President would be called. During Sarah Palin’s Vice Presidency bid in 2008 her husband stated he wanted to be called ‘first dude’, and Laura Bush previously suggested the idea of ‘first gentleman’. If Hillary wins, Bill Clinton would therefore be the first to take this role and no one is quite sure exactly what his title would be. Alongside this, the only other candidate on the Democratic side is Bernie Sanders, who if successful would be the first Jewish President of the United States.
It’s unfortunate that this election has been so clouded by accusations, dirty tricks and foul language that many have missed the opportunity to explore how progressive these candidates actually are for America. Alongside this, due to the political role often given to the partner of the President, we may also see many firsts regarding this partner, ranging from the first Latino first lady to an ambiguously titled ‘first gentleman’.