A Broken System


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Creative Commons illustration featuring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Tony Pacheco, News Editor

The American political system is broken.

One only needs to look at the two leading candidates running for president to see how screwed up our system really is.

On the surface, both candidates seem like good choices to lead their parties. But, once you dig beyond the superficial, you are left with two of the least desirable presidential candidates in the history of the United States.

But why are we left with such ineffectual leading candidates? There are far more qualified people to lead this nation than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Why is it that they were even chosen to lead their parties in the first place?

Countless newspapers and magazines echo this sentiment.

For example, the Boston Globe’s Philip Bump wrote in January that “Three out of every five Americans views Donald Trump unfavorably.” That was before The Washington Post published Trump’s 2005 vulgar and sexist remarks about groping and sexually assaulting women.

Additionally, new information is constantly being released about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and the deaths of the four Americans in Benghazi while she was Secretary of State.

Clinton is a prototypical bought and paid for corporate politician. According to OpenSecrets.org, some of Clinton’s top donors between 1999-2016 includes JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Time Warner and Bank of America.

According to OpenSecrets.org, “The organizations did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.”

According to Bruce E. Levine of the Huffington Post, corporatocracy, a society or system that is governed or controlled by corporations, is the real form of government in the United States, not democracy.

“The United States of America was actually created as a republic, in which Americans were supposed to have power through representatives who were supposed to actually represent the American people,” Levine writes. “The truth today, however, is that the United States is neither a democracy nor a republic. Americans are ruled by a corporatocracy: a partnership of “too-big-to-fail” corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials.”

Corporatocracy or not, this year’s presidential election seems far more progressive than any other. For the first time in the history of the United States a woman has a serious chance of becoming president.

This is on the heels of our first African American president.

Yet, this year has seen several major steps back, most recently with the movement to repeal the 19th Amendment.

According to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, if women were not allowed to vote, Trump would become president in a landslide, winning 350 electoral votes to 188.

“It seems fair to say that, if Trump loses the election, it will be because women voted against him,” Silver wrote.

In a similar manner, the Trump campaign has even called out their supporters to cause unrest at the polls.

For example, according to election law expert Rick Hasen in The Washington Post, it is common for there to be poll watchers but it is the way the Trump campaign is handling the situation that is the problem.

“What’s different is that he is couching it in an incendiary way by saying ‘crooked Hillary’ wants to steal the election,” Hanson wrote, who’s also a professor at the University of California at Irvine. “That seems to be an invitation to go and make trouble.”

To further complicate matters, Trump has failed to distance or separate himself from his supporters’ actions and comments. Trump has not denounced the Ku Klux Klan and the many other white supremacist groups most vocal during this election.

“Each time Trump was asked on Twitter about his white nationalist supporters, the candidate, who is ready to respond, day or night, to critics of his debating style or his golf courses, simply ignored the question,” writes The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.

Many people have asserted one of Trump’s leading qualities is that he speaks his mind.

Yet, as president of the United States, we need a leader that is consistently vocal in his support of human and civil rights. Trump does nothing to distance himself from the violence and bigotry from his campaign and followers. This only further encourages this behavior.

It is all about perception.

The president needs to be held to the highest standard of the land. However, Trump seems to be using his supporters’ behavior to his advantage. His website is awash in constant negative propaganda, much of it directed at Clinton herself.

Trump may be as unqualified as they come, but his campaign is just a symptom of a much larger problem in American politics: confirmation bias.

According to Science Daily, “Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.”

In other words, people will naturally gravitate towards information that confirms what they already believe. A result of this problem is Fox News, a channel devoted to skewing the news in conservatives favor.

According to FAIR, Republican Rich Bond said conservative denunciations of liberal bias in the media were part of the strategy of the network.

“If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs,’” Bond said. “Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack next time.”

Fox News is anything but fair and balanced. However, the network’s hate-spewing commentary has won them fans by presenting the news their viewers want to hear.

This is one of the most fundamentally detrimental aspects of our society and is partly to blame for the two party system that dominates U.S. politics.

Although anybody can run for president, unless they are running as a Democrat or Republican, they have next to no chance of actually winning.

If people would stop thinking in terms of Democrat and Republican, or liberal and conservative, we may be able to actually nominate and elect qualified politicians that will represent the best values of the American people.

We should be voting in people based on the issues and not what they represent. It is the issues and people that matter not the party. By doing so we would avoid electing officials like Clinton or Trump.