At first glance, it appeared Anthony Stackpoole, Chippewa County Republican Party chair, was wearing a Hillary Clinton T-shirt.
A closer look revealed the words ‘Hilliary for Prison 2016,’ with ‘liar’ subtly highlighted.
The shirt’s wording was another reminder of the tone of the nastiest U.S. presidential election campaign in years, possibly ever.
Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have verbally attacked each other, and bitterness between their supporters has caused what commentators are calling “the great divide” in America.
Indeed, some longtime supporters of each party are less than thrilled with Clinton and Trump.
SooToday visited Sault, Michigan Tuesday to get an idea of how voters and party workers felt as our neighbours went to the polls to choose a new president.
“It’s finally over, it’s been a long year with a lot of arguing…it’s bad with all the hate, I think everybody should get along,” said a young male voter who identified himself as Mike.
Mike, by the way, voted for Trump.
“It’s been too long, and I haven’t watched the debates because there was too much bickering…Trump uses bad language and I don’t want a president that does that,” said Wilma Gierke, who said she would be voting Libertarian.
“I voted for Hillary because I think Trump is a real ass, and Hillary will do the best she can,” said Stephanie Krebs.
“I did not vote for Trump…I voted for Clinton because I figured she was the lesser of two evils,” said Krista San Angelo.
“I voted for Trump because I think he’s the only one who’s going to get this nation out of debt…I think all around he’s got a good idea of what this nation needs,” said Ciara Krantz.
“I voted for Trump…for me, the time that has been put into government by Hillary, I feel she hasn’t done a lot,” said Justin Lawson.
“I voted for Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump scares me on many levels. I’m afraid he’s going to make another country mad with his mouth,” said Saundra Deeghan.
“I voted for Clinton because of her qualifications and experience,” said Jaime Deeghan.
How did America get to the point where Clinton and Trump, two controversial figures, won their parties’ nominations and spent months attacking each other, saying very little in terms of policy?
How has this great divide come about?
Stackpoole said he believes the blame for the great divide can be put on what many feel are status quo, well-funded politicians.
“That’s how Trump has gotten to where he is, because nobody has done anything, and Hillary Clinton is part of that problem.”
“Trump got there because of this anger in the American people…the politicians, all of them, both sides, everybody in Washington is not listening to the people,” Stackpoole said, anticipating a Trump victory.
“I’ve never seen a presidential campaign like this, with this much vitriol,” said Allison Youngs, Chippewa County Democratic Party chair.
“It takes a lot of money to run a presidential race…because of that, candidates are always raising money (and are out of touch with people).”
“I think that’s led to some of the divisions, as well as social media.”
“People can say whatever they want online and they don’t feel any consequences, but at the end of the day we’re all going to have to work together” Youngs said, anticipating a Clinton win in the race for the White House and a closer contest in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, where Sault, Michigan is situated.
“What we would get from Clinton is a continuation of what you would expect from an American president,” said Ben Toll, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) political science professor, suggesting status quo politicians have led to Trump’s popularity with his supporters.
“I think Donald Trump would be a change in the way American presidents have behaved since World War II…we’ve taken the role of global leadership seriously, and Donald Trump says ‘we need to look out for ourselves instead of the global community,’” Toll said, stating Americans tend to vote for personalities, not policies.
“Both parties need to work at stabilizing their support, and who exactly will represent the interests of the labouring class is one of the biggest questions,” said Trevor Tchir, Algoma University political science professor.
Will the great divide in American politics and society be healed after the election?
"I think it will continue,” Toll said, projecting Clinton, as president, would be under constant attack from a Republican congress.
“In the end, most Americans come together,” Youngs said optimistically.
At the local level, Democrat Lon Johnson and Republican Jack Bergman are running in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District for the right to represent Sault, Michigan and a swath of northern Michigan in Washington.