What 2016 did to American democracy

This election tainted everything it touched — the Republican Party in particular

At long last, the finish line is in sight. The mudslinging, the lying, the venality will stop cluttering the Twitter feeds of the nation. By tomorrow night, this United States presidential election will be over.

Sort of. The repercussions of this ugly race will, of course, just be getting started. No matter who wins, the legacy of this campaign will linger long after the ballots are counted. The parties, the public, U.S. politics itself: Everything in American public life has been tainted by this divisive, at times disgusting contest.

A Hillary Clinton win — the most likely scenario, according to most polls — would accomplish one positive thing: It would make history by electing the first woman president of the United States. That would leave a big crack in that glass ceiling at a time when women feel under siege on college campuses, in workplaces and in many countries around the world. It would be a symbolic event, but still very important — even if it didn’t translate into material change for the well-being of women (which it’s unlikely to do).

Like Barack Obama before her, Clinton would enter office carrying the burden of high expectations: in his case, the promise of a post-racial America, in hers, the promise of a more female-friendly agenda. But as in Obama’s case, the expectations raised by a Clinton presidency could quickly become sidetracked by partisan obstructions — especially if Congress blocks her proposals for 12 weeks of maternity leave and assistance with child care expenses. And there’s not a lot of promise for improving the lot of American women in Clinton’s economic platform, with its combination of protectionist trade policies and tax hikes; economic stagnation would hurt all Americans, male and female alike.

But while a Clinton win wouldn’t necessarily usher in a better world for women, a Trump win might inaugurate a far worse one. If Americans elect a president who boasts of being able to grab women by their private parts with the impunity conveyed by celebrity — who calls women “pigs” and “dogs” and dismisses others as too ugly to be worth harassing — they’ll send the world the message that, in the U.S., misogyny is not only OK, it pays.

How would Trump represent America on the world stage? The image of him attending a future G7 meeting alongside strong female heads of state such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May would be risible, if it were not so sad.

Read the full article on iPolitics.

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