Gold Medal Politics

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — This year, the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony happened only a couple of weeks after both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The proximity of these major events caused Americans to take a new look at their circumstances as a nation.

This summer, the United States sent 555 athletes to Rio to participate in a total of 30 sports. By the end of the Olympics, Team USA earned a total of 121 medals — 46 gold, 37 silver, 38 bronze. Success stories of Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, and Simone Biles, gold-medal gymnast, circulated through the media. With such strong performance and inspiring athletes, the fact that many Americans find themselves suddenly patriotic is not surprising.

Americans may find it easy to be swept up in medal counts and USA chants, but politics reminds us that the US has its own political competition happening at home.

On August 16, Hillary Clinton took her campaign to Philadelphia and cited the success of Team USA at the Olympics against Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.

“I was thinking the other day when Donald Trump speaks, he speaks about fear,” explained Clinton. “He speaks about such negativity and such pessimism. And then I watch the Olympics, and it’s exactly the opposite.”

Clinton further addressed how America should not live in fear and how American athletes embody “the kind of spirit that we want from all Americans.”

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has not responded to Clinton’s comment. He actually said almost nothing about the Olympics — not even on Twitter, his preferred social media platform. This inactivity might be due to how America’s consistently growing medal count does not fit with his claim about how little America wins today.

This instance with our political nominees drew the unexpected connection between politics and the Olympics and encouraged Americans to reevaluate the circumstances of the nation. While America dominated in a competition against athletes from around the world, it still has its own competition — a presidential one — to deal with. Whether America will be able to decide who deserves the win in its presidential election will not be certain for a few more months.

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