Three spooky precedents set this primary

Paul Hazelton

Donald Trump, a well-known business tycoon, entertainer and meglomaniac is running for president, which in itself is concerning, but there’s more. Members of the Senate and Congress are performing elaborate hearings which seem to be aimed at undermining presidential candidates and their allied organizations. And, many people throughout the U.S. believe Trump is a Clinton plant, a saboteur.

While these occurrences seem unrelated, they have all set dangerous precedents for the future.

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The real reason Trump’s run for the White House should be concerning is that his success so far may promote the idea of further CEO presidents. That would be fine if businessmen didn’t make historically awful presidents. But, they do.

Former U.S. presidents Carter, Harding and George W. Bush were, at one time, successful businessmen, but they were also equally unsuccessful presidents. Besides that fact, having billionaire businessman at the helm doesn’t bode well for the lower and middle class, the environment or even democracy itself. After all, when their terms are over these individuals are still beholden to their company’s stockholders and their own ambition. This would seem to suggest that such presidents might use this position of power to manipulate tax, business and environmental regulations for their own benefit. This would be considered  illegal but proving it would likely be a problematic process. Plus, CEO’s notoriously embrace “my way or the highway” mentalities. This is not conducive in politics. If people like Trump somehow enter the office as president, their relationship with the legislature is almost assured to be disastrous, as they will attempt to bully it. This is, of course, unless their party happens to take both the House and the Senate.

At any rate, Trump’s candidacy also opens the door for celebrities to run, though many would argue that this door has been open for quite some time. Ronald Reagan was an actor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger became a governor. The difference with Trump is that he doesn’t attempt to hide his melodramatic qualities. In fact, he uses them to his advantage. That’s a problem because it allows unbalanced celebrities, like Kanye West — who has stated he will be running in 2020 — to believe they have the “right stuff” for the office. The second danger here, is if one of these celebrities is held in high enough regard before they announce, they could sweep the election based solely on mass appeal and name recognition, while having no real grasp on how the political world operates.

This election cycle has also given rise to rumors, specifically that miss Clinton and mister Trump are working together in a plot to destroy the GOP’s chances of success. While I find this possibility unlikely — for reasons I’ll not bore you with here — it’s not impossible. Regardless, it would be a master stroke and it’s doubtful that this reality is lost on either party. With this in mind, it’s probable that in the near future this trick will be used, if it hasn’t been already. This would add another tier of espionage into U.S. politics, as well as, further degrade the trust of the American electorate.

That said, the aforementioned political sabotage could be considered criminal syndicalism, which in some states is illegal, but it still seems to be an open question whether this is considered a crime in national politics. Even if it is, it would be very hard to prove and politicians arn’t known to shy away from a little corruption. 

Finally, we come to the fictitious hearings. So far, there are three such hearings being conducted, all by Republicans. They cover subjects such as, the Planned Parenthood videos, Clinton’s e-mails and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. While based in reality, these hearings are blatant political attacks on Democratic chances for success in this election. They shift news coverage from actual policy positions to largely manufactured scandals meant to discredit candidates and their political allies. If this trend persists, politics will become even more of a theatrical competition than it already is. Additionally, if candidates set these traps themselves, they stand to gain far more support from their base, added campaign finance, and a dip in the polls for their rivals. What’s not to love?

For most people, these are footnotes in the primary campaign, but to any political observer with a keen eye, they’re goldmines of information and politicians are no different. New ways of running campaigns arise every election cycle, and parties adjust themselves accordingly. The difference is that we are headed toward an irrefutably negative outcome. While this whole piece has been highly speculative, for the Halloween addition, I could not have thought of a more scary and potentially accurate subject. 

Collegian Columnist Paul Hazelton can be reached at letters@collegian.com, or on Twitter @HazeltonPaul.