Presidential candidates face fresh scrutiny

With less than three months and three debates left to go, many people are frustrated with the two main choices for president that they have been presented with. Both of the major party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, seem to be consistently mired in new scandals with each passing day.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton released her financial records for the past year, following a decades old tradition among presidential candidates. These showed that she made roughly $11 million in the last year alone, which places her firmly in the top .1 percent of earners. For the Bernie Sanders supporters out there: yes, it’s THAT top .1 percent. She paid a tax rate of 34.2 percent and donated roughly 9 percent to charity.

This level of income marks a stark contrast to her claims that she’s just like us, while it also calls into question how motivated she will be to enact the tax reforms that have been a major selling point for the Sanders movement. As she falls into the tax bracket that would be most widely affected, her intentions here are dubious at best.

Republican candidate Donald Trump, on the other hand, has refused to release his tax returns, claiming that the IRS is currently auditing him. This is one of many questionable actions committed by Trump over the past few weeks. On August 10, Trump claimed that President Obama founded the terrorist group ISIS, a claim that he reiterated numerous times over the following two days. He later scaled back these remarks by tweeting that CNN was missing his obvious sarcasm.

However, his most infamous comments happened the week before, where he said that “[I]f she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know,” in regards to a Hillary Clinton presidency. This has been widely criticized as an unprecedented threat against another candidate, although the Trump campaign later claimed that the comments were in reference to the voting power of the Second Amendment supporters.

Perhaps the most unifying aspect of this presidential campaign is the feeling of disgust that most Americans feel towards the two major party candidates. This presents a unique opportunity for a third party, such as Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, to gain prominence in the eyes of voters.

Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states, and currently sits at an 8.3 percent approval rating, leaving him only 6.7 percent shy of being able to participate in the presidential debates. His biggest obstacle has been that people have no idea who he is, but a large spike in media coverage over the past few weeks has helped his profile grow. There hasn’t been a third party candidate in the presidential debates since Ross Perot ran as an independent in 1992.

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