Columnist: How does a woman get elected in the US?

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Politics has to work hard to be interesting to the ordinary punter in the street but even here attention has been grabbed by the US presidential race. But sadly not in a good way.

Larger-than-life characters add colour to political proceedings and there’s no disputing that Donald Trump is doing that. But, again, sadly not in a good way.

Last weekend’s revelations of an off-air conversation he had while making a TV programme was certainly colourful. His remarks were crude, offensive and – despite his attempts to defend himself – indefensible.

Many of his staunchest Republican supporters were quickly dropping him like a hotcake and distancing themselves from his misogynistic and arrogant comments. But that just shows that you have to actually get your hand caught in the cookie jar to be publicly shamed.

But that hasn’t stopped others, remarkably, coming to his defence and trying to spin it.

Attempts have been made to minimise his sexist rhetoric by describing it as “locker-room talk” and his son Eric Trump even went so far as to say: “I think sometimes when guys are together they get carried away, and sometimes that’s what happens when alpha personalities are in the same presence.”

‘Alpha personalities’? To my mind that just makes me think of a much ruder phrase that couldn’t be printed in a family newspaper like this.

But best of all was Trump himself, in a classic attempt to deflect, saying Bill Clinton had said much worse to him on the golf course, as if implying his opponent’s husband, with his own tarnished reputation, made him seem like a veritable saint.

While all the smelly stuff may be hitting the fan over Trump, I think it masks a much deeper malaise in American politics.

Here in the UK the political parties – and electorate – have been dragged slowly over the decades into accepting women and people of different ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientation into positions of power.

In the USA, there’s a clash of cultures.

It leads the way in so many ways in the 21st century yet, with Trump still having a sizeable following, the question has to be asked: “What does a woman have to do to get elected?”

Hillary Clinton has more experience of hard-nosed, down and dirty politics on the world stage, than any presidential candidate, winner or loser, in recent years.

When Obama was elected, it broke the race barrier.

There were many who thought there would never be a non-white president in their lifetime, let alone just a few generations from racial discrimination still being legal in some states (not that the USA has solved its race problems, as the recent rioting sadly shows).

So when you’ve got a candidate who has the gravitas and experience to take on the job in the White House, you would think they’d be a shoe-in, right?

Apparently not, or at least not when that candidate is a she.

Let’s hope the good people of the USA prove me wrong on November 8.