June 16th 2015 – Donald Trump officially declares his candidacy for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party
AmericanVoterAbroad (AVA): HAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAH… oh, this will be funny. A sad, funny publicity stunt. (how naïve I was back then!)
August 3rd 2015- First Presidential Forum, including 14 Republican candidates, takes place.
AVA: This is a joke. 14 candidates from the Republican Party and none of them have any redeeming qualities in my eyes. Mostly senators or representatives who aided in blocking Obama’s acts in Congress. Mainly white males who are anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-Obamacare, anti-paid family leave, anti-anything progressive or forward thinking or supported by Democrats. Depressing.
October 13th 2015- First Democratic debate is held, including 5 candidates for presidential nomination by the Democratic Party.
AVA: Well, this is a bit more sensible. I recognise Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders among the Democratic potentials; they are obviously the stand-out options. I recall Hillary’s bid in 2008 against Obama. She did quite well then and I hope she will again. She has a deep career of political experience including Senator and Secretary of State and generally seems to be a #boss. She champions education and women’s rights through the Clinton Foundation, both high on my agenda. Although, I also like the points that Bernie makes and find he speaks for my generation in a way that most politicians never seem to do.
February 2016- July 2016- Debates continue within the political parties (Republicans, Democrats, Libertarian, Green) in order to narrow down nominees. Caucuses and Primaries (the means by which political parties officially nominate a candidate as their leader) occur in each of the 50 states of the US. The two main parties nominate: Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D).
AVA: This process is very drawn out and characterised by the usual political mud-slinging. I find it very difficult to make out the true character of any of the main candidates in this type of campaigning but I am utterly astounded that Donald Trump has been able to pave an actual path toward the Republican ticket. “How did he even get here?”, I find myself asking over and over, with increasing anxiety. Certainly his career path did not lead to this…CEO of an infamous hotel chain, handed his wealth by his father, a caricature of a man who exploited his bullying management technique on reality television. The only reason he could come from a completely unrelated background and walk onto this political stage is that he had the wealth to do so and the audaciousness to exploit the dissatisfaction of Americans who had grown tired of hearing politicians make promises from podiums. He wears a baseball cap featuring campaign slogans, talks “straight” (like an uneducated and ineloquent tyrant) and comes up with simple slogans that are easy to chant or repeat, (Build a Wall!, Make America Great Again) as if shouting them aloud makes up for the fact that there is no substance or policy behind any of these ‘ideas’. He appeals to people who are all too eager to be angry and hostile, and supporters of the Republican Party have been well primed for this sort of dissent over the past 8 years of Obama -blocking tactics. I would know, because there are several members of my extended family who are among this lot. They watch Fox News and share ridiculous conspiracy theories circulated on social media, unfounded in fact but steeped in aggression and intolerance. I await the coming months of campaigning with trepidation.
September 26th 2016- First Presidential Candidates Debate is held.
AVA: I look forward to the first of three debates because I am by now, extremely tired of the one-sided, un-checked speeches that Trump has been making at rallies and sponsored events. His campaign has focused on inciting anger with the status quo and generalising and berating large groups of people, intentionally and unintentionally. His words and actions are undeniably bigoted, racist, sexist, and homophobic and incite intolerance among his followers toward large ethnic and religious groups. He is simply a bully with a large microphone to the country and the world. I look forward to this debate for several reasons. I want him to be asked to answer direct questions relating to his ludicrous and generalised statements (Ban all Muslims? Law and Order?). I want to see him struggle to scrape together any sort of evidence that he has researched or planned beyond these slogans. I want to see him stumble to deliver factual information about foreign policy, tax plans, immigration reform, education, women’s rights, the failings of the law enforcement. I want to see him stand opposite Hillary, who will have no doubt prepared herself to answer questions thoroughly and efficiently, citing fact and referencing her broad knowledge based on extensively prepared policies. I want her to rise above his heckling and shine through as the sane and competent option. I woke up the morning after the debate and read through the transcript of their answers as well as several independant reviews. Somehow, this first debate managed to go round and round the same worn-out topics. More “mud was slung” and fingers were pointed in the same direction as they usually were. Trump lied… a lot. He spoke out of turn… a lot. He avoided answering questions, instead diverting the topic to things that Hillary did wrong. He didn’t play by the rules of debate, which are hinged in truth and utilise the skill of listening and responding. He played his own game, as he always does, in which he tries to speak louder and act stronger by attempting to tear down his opponent with insult and condescension. And somehow, a large group of people still are fooled into believing that he actually is the stronger.
October 5th 2016
AVA: I voted today. Filled out my ballot, scanned it, and emailed it to my local town council. It feels good to have done something that counts. #I’mwithher
October 9 & 19th 2016 – Second and Third Presidential Debates
AVA: By the end of the Debates, Politifact reported in their selection of notable quotes by both candidates that Donald Trump’s statements are 70% “Mostly False to Pants-on-Fire”.
Hillary Clinton’s statements are only 26% “Mostly False to Pants-on-Fire”. This is still not great but a notable difference.
It is terribly frustrating to listen to the debates. I think it’s disgusting that we have given this man a stage to project his mostly false and dangerous propaganda. I haven’t even begun to go into the deep pool of reasons I loathe him. Now is not the time and place.
I am asked by friends and colleagues what I think of the campaign, what I think the odds are, what I will do if Trump wins? I find it deeply worrying and damaging that I have to consider that last question. Because I don’t only wonder what it will be like for myself if Trump wins, I consider what it will mean for my family, for my son, for my friends and for our country in the eyes of the world. Our political system is flawed, for certain; a two party system which is crippled by an inability to find bipartisan common ground. It has allowed someone like Donald to rise from the cracks and attract enough attention to divert from the real issues. So much hinges on the result of November 8th. Will Americans be able to look back and shake our head at how close we came to doing something very, very stupid? Or will we have a very different future ahead… one I can’t and won’t begin to imagine unless I very much have to on Tuesday November 8th. I hope not.
November 8th 2016: Election Day
AVA: Polling stations will open between 6 and 7 am across the six time zones. Most polling stations will close around 7 or 8pm and votes will be tallied in the coming hours. Each state is worth a certain number of electoral votes, so the candidate who wins the most votes in that state will get all of that state’s electoral votes. (It sounds crazy and it is- a candidate can get more individual votes across the whole country yet lose because of the electoral system!) Some states have a lot more electoral votes than others (California- 55 vs. Vermont- 3) and that is why candidates will campaign harder in some areas than others. Some states typically always vote Democratic or Republican, while others are known as “swing states” and tend to alternate. These are always highly contested areas during campaigning as well. The candidate that reaches 270 electoral votes will have won. I’ll be watching closely, hoping for the map to light up blue.