Americans have never faced an election worse than this

What the Arabic press is saying bout the US election

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the conclusion of their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
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With Americans all set to elect their new president, Arabic-language commentators are offering their take on the contestants.

According to the columnist Ahmed Al Faraj, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the worst candidates in America’s election history.

Writing in Al Jazeera, he expressed surprise at how Republican nominee Donald Trump’s racist comments have appealed to such a massive number of voters.

“He has launched his campaign by attacking and insulting Muslims and Latin Americans and suggesting that a wall be built along the US-Mexican border,” Al Faraj noted, saying that he never expected such comments to be accepted in a bastion of freedom and democracy.

“Mr Trump’s campaigns have attracted right-wing Republicans, including extremist groups, gun-rights advocates and those disgruntled about the federal government ever since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act in 1968.”

And things were no less exciting for the Democratic nominee.

“Mrs Clinton was confident that she would win her party’s presidential primaries, especially after notable Democrats did not seek the nomination. But much to her surprise and that of her party, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders ran as an independent and appealed to the youth, thanks to his ambitious programme.

“Were it not for the totally unfair votes of the superdelegates in favour of Mrs Clinton, Mr Sanders would have won the Democratic party nomination,” the writer noted.

“Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump carry on with their personal attacks with the former facing accusations of irresponsibly handling confidential files, while the latter is dogged by sexual, racism and tax evasion scandals.”

Regardless of who wins the election, Americans will surely not be celebrating today, Al Faraj said.

Writing in the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat, columnist Amir Taheri wondered which candidate would be better, or for that matter worse, for the Middle East.

The answer, according to the writer, depends on what the candidates have to offer for their country, because if the United States is incapable of sorting out its internal affairs, then it cannot do much for other countries.

“President Barack Obama will stand down in a few days leaving behind a divided government, a divided society and a divided institution, which leads to the real question: which candidate is less likely to deepen the schism?

“If we consider their words, Mr Trump is more likely to cause a crack by attacking Mexicans, Muslims and even senior Democratic Party members. But if we look into their deeds, Mrs Clinton gets the upper hand,” he said.

But while Mr Trump is a great talker, the writer noted that he is still an unknown person and might turn out to be a less divisive public figure if he allows the government structures to absorb the shock caused by the actions of Mr Obama and restores balance.

“When it comes to the Middle East, Mr Trump has the advantage of being a little known figure on the political scene. In spite of all the nonsense he has spouted about his country’s foreign policy, he has highlighted a key point time and again – the inefficiency of US foreign policy.

“This might convince him to look for something different, or maybe to create a new opportunity to rectify some of the damage caused by Mr Obama’s misleading policy in relation to the peace and stability of the Middle East,” he wrote.

“On the other hand, Mrs Clinton has well-known antecedents, not the least is her support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt before Mr Obama decided to give up on them, her participation in formulating Mr Obama’s catastrophic policy in Libya and her fruitless negotiations on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

That said, Taheri concluded that American voters should have one main concern, namely which candidate is able to bridge the rift in the fabric of the American nation. That's because "it is the only power capable of making a significant difference, for better or for worse".

* Translated by Carla Mirza

cmirza@thenational.ae