The 2016 presidential race has captivated media attention from the start, with many Americans struggling to support the best the two-party system can offer. An argument for voting for the lesser of the two evils exists to encourage voter turnout in a discouraged population. Despite this frustration, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have made statements that appeal to some while increasing the level of distrust felt by other voters.
“Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Mexico is totally dependent on the United States as a release valve for its own poverty.” –Donald J. Tump
“Several years ago there was a tremendous program in Richmond, Virginia called Project Exile. It said that if a violent felon uses a gun to commit a crime, [he or she] will be prosecuted in federal court and go to prison for five years—no parole or early release. Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, called that a ‘cookie cutter’ program. That’s ridiculous. I call that program a success.” –Donald J. Trump
“As president, Hillary will commit to preventing, effectively treating, and making a cure possible for Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.” -hillaryclinton.com
“As president, Hillary will strengthen American manufacturing with a $10 billion “Make it in America” plan.” -hillaryclinton.com
These are a few of the statements heard from the Democratic and Republican nominees for President. Both candidates are frustrated with current systems and desire to make a change, but can voters actually make informed decisions from these statements? How much do politicians say to appeal to voters, and how much can the President actually change during a four-year term?
It has been said that all politicians lie, but a 2015 New York Times article argues that some lie more than others. A political fact checker evaluated multiple statements from prominent political figures, including President Obama, Clinton, Sanders, and Trump. According to his findings, the majority of Trump’s statements have not been truthful—three quarters of his record ranks from mostly false to ridiculously false. Secretary Clinton’s record was not as concerning, with 28% of her statements bending the truth. A comforting note for Bernie Sanders supporters, 28% of his statements were dishonest, reflecting the same percentage as the Democratic Nominee.
President Obama’s record is the best of these political figures, with only 26% of his statements measuring not t
ruthful. Mind you, this percentage includes his campaign and two terms as President of the United States, and the President has also been praised as a Master Public Speaker.
Trump’s dishonesty is concerning, not only because he is a candidate for the most influential government office in the world, but also because his style is openly insulting, threatening, and inconsistent.
Historically, American presidents have been considered skilled orators, which is an important factor to rally support of the people behind their ideals and vision. However, trusting leaders is also important, and words are powerful tools for a leader to build a foundation of trust. When listening to debates and speeches or reading articles from different media outlets, it is valuable to seek truth and understand both sides of an argument to avoid fallacies and blatant lies. Political rhetoric is intended to persuade, but in this presidential election, it has become especially pointed and toxic, enough to create a discouraged voting environment as mentioned earlier. Whether candidates are attacking one another or making big promises about their action plan as President, Americans have the task to seek truth and make the best judgment possible, even if that means choosing the lesser of two evils or for a candidate with a track record of less blatant dishonesty than the other.
Donald J. Trump, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/pay-for-the-wall
Donald J. Trump, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/second-amendment-rights
Hillary Clinton, https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/factsheets/2016/04/01/hillary-clintons-strategy-to-make-it-in-america/
Hillary Clinton, https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/alzheimers-disease/
The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/opinion/campaign-stops/all-politicians-lie-some-lie-more-than-others.html?_r=0
Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/06/01/yes-you-do-have-an-obligation-to-vote-for-the-lesser-of-two-evils-heres-why/
Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/12/07/is-our-out-of-control-political-rhetoric-really-all-that-extraordinary/