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President of The United States

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The media coverage of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump misses the point. While the race for president is about each person, the process, the scandals, the outrage and the stories that have a life of their own are not about the people — they are about the “brand.”

The most passionate advocates for each candidate have defended and supported them, recognizing their shortcomings but urging us to believe each candidate will be better because they just are better — the way any brand with a loyal following just is.

Newspapers and advocates of each side shout at the top of their lungs about this historic election, offering evidence of Clinton’s inappropriate handling of emails and Trump’s personal attacks.

In the latest battle, Trump has taken to the airways to respond to Khizr Khan, the parents of a Muslim-American war hero.

The question isn’t whether this reveals something new about Trump, the person. It doesn’t. Surely anyone who has watched Trump over the last year or so realizes that his personal style, and the brand under which he is running for the highest office in the land, emanate from a scripted character. He doesn’t let anyone question him or his brand without counterattacking. He has become a talking head in touch with his irascible side.

That may be what attracts people to him. There is no political correctness, a term he utters with such disdain that he says it as if he is standing at a podium filled with soiled diapers. The Trump brand and playbook mandate that a best defense is a good offense.

If he’s offensive in the process, who cares? He doesn’t — and on the whole it appears many of his supporters don’t, either. He may have been right that he could shoot somebody in Times Square and not lose votes because outrageous words and actions are a part of his brand.

While I don’t agree with the slash-and-burn approach to the personal and political battles he fights, I recognize he’s probably not fighting for the little guy, the medium-sized guy or the big guy so much as he’s fighting for his brand. In a country where products and marketing are so inextricably intertwined, he is the best advocate for Brand Trump. Does being Trump prohibit him from saying “I’m sorry” or “I’m wrong”?

Those who hated him before have more ammunition in their battle with him. But what does he care? If they weren’t loyal to the brand and they weren’t his customers, he hasn’t lost anything.

What will cause voters loyal to Brand Trump — or, put another way, those who are angry, fearful or resentful of the Clinton brand — to change their minds? How far can he go before some of those who identify with him decide he shouldn’t become president?

Does this pitched battle with the Khans — parents of a slain and decorated war hero — do for the Trump brand what the attack on the U.S. Army did for Sen. Joseph McCarthy? His pursuit of communists damaged and destroyed lives and careers in the early 1950s until Joseph Welch, the chief counsel for the Army, asked McCarthy in 1954 if he had “no sense of decency.”

For Brand Trump, decency doesn’t seem to have been a priority up until now. The question, however, is whether those buying the product will care enough about what he says or thinks to force a change in the brand before they, themselves, choose the other brand.

Deomcrats and Republicans are in the midst of a heated election season. File photo

Although America’s two major political party conventions will be wrapped up by the end of this week, for many in this country, it seems as if there are four party conventions coming to a close.

If there is one thing Democrats and Republicans share at the moment, it’s the fact that many people feel like outsiders in their own party.

Since the start of the primaries, many traditional conservatives have had trouble accepting presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) as one of their own. On the first day of the convention, some state delegates staged a walkout to protest against Trump. Not only do voters and delegates feel this way — noticeably missing from the event were former Presidents George Bush senior and junior, as well as former presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney. Romney has even gone so far as to hold press conferences to make clear his disdain for Trump and the direction he is leading the party.

Democrats have their own unity issues. After WikiLeaks exposed thousands of Democratic National Committee emails last week, the party seems more divided than ever. #BernieorBust voters within the party have said they will never vote for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D), staying true to their support for former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D) — despite his efforts to unite his supporters behind Clinton.

The divides in both parties are clear, but what should be more clear than anything else is that four months from now, this country will have to unite behind a newly elected president.

2016 has already shown us the major obstacles and issues facing America, both at home and abroad.

Our electoral system is not perfect; this election season has shown us that. But it is our system, for better or worse. We’ll need to accept who won, who lost, and most importantly, unify around the winner. The reality is, regardless of who wins, a large contingent of voters will be saddled with a commander in chief they disdain.

It is rare to find a candidate who is everything Americans in one party want, let alone both. Speaking to the #NeverTrump and #BernieorBust voters specifically, there comes a point when you need to decide which candidate represents you the most. Excluding yourself from the process gets you, and the nation, nowhere. Trump or Clinton will move into the White House in January 2017, and it would be best to vote for someone who represents some of your views, as opposed to none of them, or simply not voting at all.

As the election season continues on, it’s important to remember we all need to unite again as one country once the final ballots are cast and the polls are closed.