Most presidential candidates spend much of their time talking about policy issues, making campaign promises, or impugning their opponents. However in the current race both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have gone somewhat off-topic and into fringe beliefs including conspiracies.
While Trump has outright endorsed several conspiracy theories-President Obama's "fake" birth certificate being a prime example-Clinton has been more non-committal, but she has made public statements about UFOs, including recently on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
The "New York Times" noted that Clinton's "unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials struck a small but committed cohort of voters. Mrs. Clinton has vowed that barring any threats to national security, she would open up government files on the subject.... Her position has elated U.F.O. enthusiasts, who have declared Mrs. Clinton the first ‘E.T. candidate.'"
13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Aliens
Previous government officials have made efforts to bring any extant UFO files to light. New Mexico Congressman Steve Schiff, for example, made efforts in the 1980s to find out what the Air Force knew about possible alien visitation.
In March Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta was quoted in a "Huffington Post" story as saying he'd convinced the candidate to declassify UFO files: "I've talked to Hillary about that. There are still classified files that could be declassified. I think I've convinced her that we need an effort to kind of go look at that and declassify as much as we can, so that people have their legitimate questions answered. More attention and more discussion about unexplained aerial phenomena can happen without people-who are in public life, who are serious about this-being ridiculed."
Podesta added that "the American people, quite frankly, can handle the truth."
Aliens? Yes Please. UFOs? No Thanks
Podesta is referring to an unanswered question that has vexed UFO believers for decades: If extraterrestrials have in fact visited Earth why would the world's governments bother to hide evidence of it? With so many photos, videos, eyewitness reports, and other evidence (of varying credibility) why not just acknowledge people's suspicions?
The typical conspiracy theorist answer is that the world's governments have hidden evidence of extraterrestrial life because the public "isn't ready to know" or "can't handle the truth," that somehow knowledge that aliens have been abducting people, inserting anal probes in them, making designs in wheat fields, and so on is too psychologically or socially shocking for the public. UFO conspiracy theorists claim that if the U.S. government revealed what it knows about aliens the public would panic and society would crumble. Or something.
However there's no reason to think that's true. The fact is that most people already think that extraterrestrials not only have visited Earth but may even be secretly living among us. According to a 1997 CNN poll, "80 percent of Americans think the government is hiding knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms. About 54 percent believe intelligent life exists outside Earth. Sixty-four percent of the respondents said that aliens have contacted humans, half said they've abducted humans, and 37 percent said they have contacted the U.S. government."
Earthlings Not Ready for Alien Encounters, Yet
In other words, if Hilary Clinton's administration fessed up to having clear evidence that aliens had been in contact with Earthlings, the most likely result would not be worldwide, crazy-eyed panic but instead a collective shrug, another in a long list of things the government finally admitted to, from the top-secret Project Mogul spy balloon that crashed in Roswell in 1947 to NSA spying.
If the government really is hiding UFOs, the cat's out of the bag and most people suspect that's the case anyway. Perhaps the next president will reveal what the government knows about aliens, but the irony is that no matter what Clinton does if elected president-no matter how much she reveals (short of compromising national security, of course)-she will not satisfy the conspiracy theorists.
If she investigates and finds that there are in fact no alien bodies or crashed saucers being studied, she will be accused of continuing the decades-long government cover-up. If, on the other hand, she declassifies all the information and opens up Area 51 to public tours, UFO buffs still wouldn't believe a word of it, instead dismissing it as a disinformation campaign designed to hide the real truth.
Either way, the mystery will live on.