Reporter Journal / Chen Weihua

Americans feeling forced to choose the lesser of two evils

By Chen Weihua (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-07-25 11:24

When US news media found out that the July 18 evening speech given by Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, mimicked in a few places a speech given by current first lady Michelle Obama in 2008, they were outraged at the alleged plagiarism and sought an apology and the firing of the speechwriter from the Trump campaign.

The story became the headlines and talking points the US media ran with for at least the next 24 hours, despite the fact that similarities in speeches were not that unusual - all you had to do was listen to the many acceptance speeches by former presidents C-SPAN broadcast over the weekend.

When news broke on Friday that leaked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails showed that DNC staffers had violated rules of neutrality in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, the media frenzy was not nearly as strong.

The Washington Post, for example, did not even carry a story in its Sunday edition about such a major scandal.

Speaking on CNN on Sunday, Sanders called the DNC behavior "outrageous", but said he was not "shocked", because he had mentioned being treated unfairly six months ago.

Sanders also voiced his continued support for Hillary Clinton, even as many of his die-hard supporters were protesting in the streets of Philadelphia the day before the Democratic National Convention begins, chanting "Hell no, DNC, we won't vote for Hillary!"

The nearly 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee released Friday by WikiLeaks, included a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall, in which he suggested the party should get someone to ask Sanders about his religious beliefs.

Instead of digging into the DNC underhandedness, some US news organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign showed more interest in speculating over whether the leaks might be an act of sabotage by so-called Russian hacker "Guccifer 2.0" in a bid to help Trump.

Americans feeling forced to choose the lesser of two evils

While no one seems to be sure if it is indeed the act of a Russian hacker, Americans should be grateful to the hacker for the revelations.

Sanders, regarded as an outsider in the Democratic Party establishment, was at a disadvantage during the primary, especially vis-a-vis the party's superdelegate system.

A level playing field clearly does not exist in US presidential election campaigns. The out-of-control campaign finance system is another major problem that casts a shadow on the US electoral system.

While pressure from Democratic Party leaders finally forced DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to announce Sunday afternoon that she would step down at the end of the convention, there have been so far no words of apology to Sanders nor acknowledgement of any misdeeds.

Instead, President Barack Obama and Democratic presumptive candidate Hillary Clinton both publicly praised Wasserman on Sunday for her work and mentioned nothing of the scandal.

US leaders like to claim their country is the greatest democracy in the world, but a large number of American voters seem to feel that they have to elect the lesser of two evils.

A Pew Research Center survey on July 7 revealed that overall satisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in two decades. Fewer than half of registered voters in both parties - 43 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Republicans - say they are satisfied with the choices for president.

The new survey released on July 14 found that when voters are asked to "check the box" on words and phrases describing Clinton and Trump, only a relatively small percentage expressed positive views of either candidate.

Only 18 percent of registered voters checked the description "someone you admire" for Clinton and 10 percent indicated this for Trump. Few voters also associated the word "honest" with either Trump (19 percent) or Clinton (13 percent). For the phrase "can unite the country," only 19 percent checked for Trump and 17 percent for Clinton.

Similar results emerged from a Gallup poll which showed that 35 percent of US adults had a favorable view of Clinton but an unfavorable view of Trump while 28 percent liked Trump but disliked Clinton.

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