The first presidential debate for the 2016 presidential campaign happened on September 26th. To say the least raised an alarm. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did little to sustain America’s faith in this country. Regardless of your stance, neither candidate hit home on the debate issues. For those of us voting on November 8th, our choice will be between the lesser of two evils. That’s if we want to keep it real with ourselves.
Presidential Debate Topics
The debate occurred at Hofstra University. NBC Nightly News anchor, Lester Holt moderated the 90-minute event. He led the discussion on three key topics voters felt were most important to American society: achieving prosperity, America’s direction and securing America. Trump started off strong, but things went left after Trump bullying tactics backfired. Most career women are immune to bullying tactics. More important, a wise career woman knows how to make this work to her advantage. In this writer’s opinion, Clinton handled Trump like a general who knows her opponent. Clinton baited Trump into showing his ignorance. Trump may know a lot about business, but he is oblivious when it comes to battle. As Sun Tzu asserts in The Art of War, “Know your enemy and know yourself.”
In the first 30-minute segment, Trump and Clinton discussed their plans or achieving prosperity. Trump started off strong in this segment. He addressed a real issue with American Trade. He asserted that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a bad call. For those who don’t know, President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA into law. This trade agreement (signed with Canada, Mexico ) eliminated trade barriers between these countries. Trump used this agreement as the basis for his argument to throw Clinton off. In Trump’s opinion, its existence contributed to America’s multi-trillion dollar deficit. His claim isn’t far-fetched. Other countries are benefiting more than America in global trade. But, Trump assertion became more about attacking the Clinton Administration less about achieving prosperity. He said little about other ways in which he would address the issue.
Clinton’s plans to invest in clean energy, enforce trade deals and hold companies accountable. Accountable for what was unclear. She also mentioned her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnerships (TPP). This is another trade agreement between the US and 11 Pacific Rim Nations. If passed, the TPP will set new terms for trade and business investments to reduce trade barriers. This sounds good, but Clinton plan for prosperity is unclear. What she proposed raised a lot of contradictions about her stance on American prosperity. One contradiction is her viewpoint on the TPP. In August, New York Times, Kevin Granville reported that,
“Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, supported the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership as secretary of state, but during the primary race, soon after the accord was concluded, she said it did not sufficiently protect American jobs.”
What sets Clinton apart from Trump is her mention of reducing the cost of education and childcare. Two topics that puts her in touch with the struggles of American citizens. Even so, this type of wishy-washy politics is not going to cut it. American citizens deserve a leader with a progressive plan for prosperity. And, by all means, if you plan to raise or lower our tax dollars, make it work in American citizens favor. As for Trump admitting that he doesn’t pay federal taxes…
American citizens are familiar with the recent visualization of police violence and brutality. All too often, police officers shoot compliant African American citizens, often killing them. The candidates were asked how do you heal the divide? Clinton made some good points– crack down on gun laws, train police on how to deal with citizens and mental health on the streets. She also spoke about the implicit bias we all have, as many of us tend to jump to conclusions about each other. In that moment, she came from a real place filled with wisdom and understanding of human nature.
Trump demonstrated little understanding of the racial divide in America. His stance included a statement about law and order and denial that “stop and frisk” encourage racial profiling. Then the shenanigans began. He rambled on about Chicago death rate, which hinted at the increase of black on black crime in Chicago. This turning point was not only ad hominem attack on President Obama., but also an indicator of his stance on race relations. Trump is oblivious to the plights of African American people. Whatsmore, Trump insistence on arguing about who asked for Obama’s birth certificate cost him. He was not prepared to address this issue and that played in Clinton advantage. “He who is well prepared and lies in wait for an enemy who is not well prepared will be victorious.”–Sun Tzu.
By the third segment, things went from bad to worst. The candidates were asked to address cyberwarfare: who’s behind it? How do we fight it? Trump spoke too much about the mistakes people made and not enough about how he planned to fight it. Of the two, Clinton answered the question. She revealed that Russia is the state actor of cyber attacks in the private and public sectors. She made declarative statements like, “We will defend the citizens of our country.” We will push ISIS out of Iraq. If we have to, “we will take out their leadership–go after Baghdadi.” She also asserted that our government needs to cooperate with Muslim nations. Hence her reason for trying to build a coalition with Iran.
If Trump made any sense in this segment, it was hard for this observer to tell. He appeared to be more offensive to the US and other nations than responsive to the issues at hand. Once again, he diverted from the real issue to make trivial points about what others have done wrong. Who cares who supported the Iraq War? What’s more important is how to do we deal with its aftermath? Trump spent too much time trying to prove that he was against the Iraq War. He lacked knowledge of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) post 9/11. As a result accused them of not playing their part. Then he moved on to who has a better judgement and a better temperament. At this point, Clinton uses silence as a weapon- a classic case of show-not-tell.
Lastly, the candidates spoke about the current policy on nuclear weapons. Clinton asserted that “we need to be precise about our plan,” but believes we need to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Trump’s stance, beyond, “it was one of the worst…”, was vague and unimaginable.
People have a right to vote for who they want to vote for. This responsibility should not be taken lightly. At the end of the day, who is the most qualified to be the next commander and chief of the United States?
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