The long and gruelling 2016 US presidential election is finally coming to a close, and it’s been a doozy.
From federal investigations to sexual assault claims, promises of building walls and destroying ISIS, the Trump and Clinton campaigns have been nothing short of jaw-dropping.
This year’s race – ripe for reality television – has seen some of the most entertaining, appalling and outrageous displays of political theatre the world has witnessed in modern history.
Below, the five most shocking moments of the election.
- Bernie Sanders got f***** by the Democratic National Committee
Senator Bernie Sanders will be hard to forget, not for his resemblance to Doc Brown, but because he rallied and energised the youth vote as a champion of free college tuition and an increased minimum wage.
So, for some it was shocking when he lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in July. It was all the more outrageous when e-mails were leaked revealing that top leaders of the DNC favoured Clinton over Sanders for the primary, which likely hurt his chances of securing the nomination.
Although the DNC later apologised to Sanders and his supporters, it was too late. The votes were cast, the damage was done, and Senator Sanders was eliminated from the race.
- Melania Trump was accused of plagiarising Michelle Obama during her Republican National Convention speech
Remember that time at the Republican National Convention when Melania raised a few eyebrows by sounding almost exactly like the current First Lady – Michelle Obama – did a few years ago? Yes? So does the Internet.
Turns out that Melania “borrowed,” almost verbatim, whole sections of the speech that Michelle delivered at the 2008 Democratic Convention. Despite the striking similarities, the Trump campaign denied allegations of plagiarism and everyone simply moved on to the next gobsmacking incident of the 2016 election. Small wonder Melania seemed slightly bemused when reading the words off her Teleprompter – she didn’t recognise them either.
- How to insult minorities – the Trump (abridged) edition
- Accuse Mexican immigrants of “bringing drugs, bringing crime” and being “rapists” while announcing your presidential bid.
- Call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” coming to the United States.
- Make fun of physically disabled journalists by offensively waving your arms and stuttering loudly while delivering a speech on your campaign trail.
- Publicly harass the parents of a fallen Muslim-American war veteran.
- Above everything else – never, ever apologise.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidate for President of the United States: Donald J. Trump.
- Trump’s sexual assault claims and lewd comments
Arguably more shocking than the litany of insults Trump has directed at various minority groups throughout his campaign is his attitude towards women (I know… how could a candidate whose declarations would be too offensive for Cards Against Humanity be even more offensive?).
He’s called former Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” and “Miss House-Keeping.”
After Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly gave Trump a series of “tough questions” during a Republican Party debate, he suggested she was on her period, saying: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.” Wow.
But the scandal that definitely exposed Trump’s utter contempt for women surfaced only a couple of weeks ago. In a video from 2005, Trump is heard bragging about his sexual behaviour and trivialising sexual harassment. He said, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]- I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait… And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.”
Over the past few months, two dozen women have come forward accusing Trump of sexual assault. Although Trump has apologised for his lewd comments, he has denied the claims of sexual misconduct.
- FBI re-opens investigation into Clinton’s e-mails
Just when you thought this election couldn’t get any uglier, it did. Only one week before Election Day, FBI director James Comey shocked the US by sending Congress a letter saying the FBI would re-open the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.
The e-mail scandal has plagued the Clinton campaign for months. Comey’s remarks – unprecedented and advised against by the US Justice Department – qualify as the most shocking moment of the election, since they came so near the end of the presidential race. The re-opening of the investigation, although now closed with Clinton cleared of any criminal suspicion, hit her campaign hard and erased her comfortable lead in the polls. The candidates were neck-and-neck in the days leading up to the election.
So America, your choice lays between a misogynistic racist and a federally investigated top-ranking official. God have mercy on us all.