Emily Landis Walker, Former Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of the Treasury, Nicholas F. Brad, was invited by the Politics Society to speak to University of Nottingham students on the ‘Current State of American Politics’.
Her opening statement was that it is “difficult to be an American in this election cycle… [It is] almost embarrassing”. She noted that the election is “giving the world anxiety” and labelled the constant media coverage nauseating to listen to.
Despite her Republican status, Walker admitted she has no idea “how Donald Trump ended up winning” the Republican nomination for President.
“The upcoming Presidential election is “a comedy, but the tragedy is that it’s real””
Suggestions included the attention he drew from the media and the fact that not many vote in primary elections (how the parties candidates are chosen as the nominee).
Walker also lay blame on the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, who she claimed lacked leadership: “(I have) no idea who he is or where he came from”. She lamented the political infighting within the party and spoke about the loss of middle ground supporters. Walker’s friends, including ambassadors and those who were in senior positions in the last Republican government, are split between voting for Clinton and Trump.
She also explained how Trump has only needed to raise around half of Clinton’s fundraising total, who has raised $1 billion, because of the constant free coverage he is afforded by US news, even if most of it is negative. This has resulted in fundraising becoming one of the least important pieces of the campaign in contrast to previous elections.
Walker stated that despite “Trump’s continuous outpouring of outrageous statements”, some of which are racist and sexist, “it must be resonating with some”, giving the example of women who still support him.
“People are voting against establishment (and) want something different but [Trump] doesn’t propose any specific plans”. Walker referenced the TV show Saturday Night Live in lamenting that the upcoming Presidential election is “a comedy, but the tragedy is that it’s real”.
“Drawing comparisons to Brexit, she said the country was polarised and it is not impossible for Trump to win”
She went on to talk about her experience working on the 9/11 Commission, explaining that Clinton’s use of a private server was “illegal and that’s a fact”. “Anyone working in government with sensitive information knows the rules, but she’s gotten away with it”.
Walker then spoke about the importance of swing states, such as Florida (her home state) in the US Electoral College system. The lack of enthusiasm for Clinton may mean people will not vote. Drawing comparisons to Brexit, she said the country was polarised and it is not impossible for Trump to win, an outcome which she called frightening. Election unknowns include whether the Republicans will keep control of the House and Senate and the impact of new voters.
“Hope and change has not happened”
Walker predicted that Hillary will probably win, although conceded she will “definitely be a one term President” as one Party has historically not controlled the White House for more than three terms in a row since Roosevelt. Speaking in terms of the Republican Party, she agreed with an audience member that the Republicans handed the Democrats the Presidency [by electing Trump as the nominee], as “hope and change has not happened”.
Post-November 8th, Walker confirmed that in the unlikely scenario of a Trump Presidency, a wall by the Mexican border would not be built. If Clinton is victorious, Walker expects her to try and salvage US credibility after the election campaign, and to tread cautiously in terms of foreign policy, pointing to Clinton’s perceived failed policies regarding the Middle East while she was Secretary of State.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Image: GPS via Flickr