When Donald John Trump announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election at the Trump Tower to an audience of about a thousand supporters on a blustery New York morning on June 16, 2015, no one could’ve anticipated the impact that he would have on this election cycle. No one (aside from Ann Coulter) could’ve even envisioned Mr. Trump winning the GOP presidential nomination. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time – even Mr. Trump himself -, there was a leadership void within the Republican Party that was crying out to be filled.
The billionaire’s no-nonsense style, outsider status, business savvy and keen political instincts drew in the support of blocks of politically frustrated middle class conservatives, tea partiers and Ron Paul’s orphaned paleolibertarians, who were all looking for a champion to lead them and give their struggle a voice. In the following months, these disparate groups of voters organically coalesced into a powerful coalition which has propelled Mr. Trump’s candidacy from the fringes of the race to the summit of the Republican nomination leaderboard with surprising, albeit controversial, ease.
And to think, the teetotaler wasn’t even certain about running as late early 2015. There were real fears that similar to the general elections of 1988, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, Mr. Trump would not make a bid for the nomination despite giving indications that he might.
His giddying ascension in the polls has been met with incredulous wonder by the media and more established candidates who have long fallen to the wayside. His combative performances in the debates left his opponents tongue-tied, much to the delight of his supporters. His controversial off-the-cuff deliveries and political incorrectness are viewed proudly by his legion of followers. His war cry, Make America Great Again, has galvanized even the elderly to attend his lively rallies.
Mr. Trump’s in-your-face style has drawn a lot of flak from all corners, but only a fool would doubt that there is a method behind his apparent madness. As the former reality TV star has demonstrated repeatedly throughout his career, his audacity is always accompanied by a ferocious intelligence.
There is simply no denying that Mr. Trump has changed the face of American politics forever. And the prospect of a businessman being elected to the White House has rekindled century-old memories of the Roaring Twenties when entrepreneurs such as Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover occupied the Oval Office.
Mr. Trump’s nationalist populist brand of politics captured the imagination of the nation, and powered his victory in the Republican primaries. However, will the charismatic real estate tycoon be able to use an identical approach in his White House run, or will he pivot to the center and reign in his explosive personality? Will he be able to unite the party’s fractured base and win over the agitated social conservatives? Will Miley Cyrus move out of the country if Mr. Trump is elected?
It would be a mistake to think that Jill Ellen Stein, the Green Party’s nominee for president, is a lightweight candidate for the 2016 presidential election. An August 2016 McClatchy/Marist national poll showed the Illinois native polling at 16% among Americans under the age of 30 – almost twice as many as Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump (9%). She also tied with Mr. Trump among undecided with 8%. Dr. Stein has clearly carved a following in the millennial voting demographic, which at 75.4 million, has surpassed the baby boomers as the largest living generation in the country.
The Harvard Medical School graduate, who also earned a B.A degree from Harvard College in 1973, spent about 25 years as a physician and researcher before transitioning into politics and social activism. Her first notable exposure to politics came in 1998 when she participated in the campaign to pass the Clean Elections Law in Massachusetts, a bill designed to reduce the influence of big-money lobbyists and special interest groups by limiting public money from being used to co-finance the political campaigns of candidates who refused to agree to a $100 contribution cap. However, five years later, the bill was repealed by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, a decision which prompted Dr. Stein to break her ties with the Democratic Party.
Her maiden run for public office came during the 2002 Massachusetts’ gubernatorial election, where under the banner of the Green-Rainbow Party, she finished third behind Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Shannon O’Brien.
From the start, Dr. Stein’s core political philosophy has always been centered on the environment, renewable energy and campaign finance reform – issues that feature heavily in the Green New Deal, her pitch to the American people for the general election. The Green New Deal outlines her commitment to create “20 million living wage jobs that provide 100% clean renewable energy by 2030” while “reviving the economy, halting climate change, and making wars for oil obsolete.” Under Dr. Stein’s leadership, the Green Party will make a strong play in down-ballot races, with reportedly several hundred candidates contesting in Senate, House and state seats across the nation.
The high unfavorable ratings for both Mr. Trump and Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton has given her campaign a massive boost, and the Green Party is expected to appear on the ballots of up to 48 states and Washington D. C in this cycle, breaking the record of 2000 when Ralph Nader attained ballot access in 43 states.
Ms. Stein, the co-founder of the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, is an avid musician and can play several musical instruments. She was also the lead vocalist for the folk-rock band, Somebody's Sister, which released four albums during the 90s (she sounds good, folks).