With each presidential debate, tensions rose and insults grew; was there a clear winner in the chaos?
We have truly reached the final stretch. Within the next two weeks, the 45th President of the United States will be elected and the candidate will be thrust into office within a uniquely historic American environment. The next president will be a “first,” regardless of which candidate triumphs. As we look forward to the next four years, we must also glance in reverse — however unfortunate such a statement may be — and examine the recent debates that have massively reshaped the entire election climate.
The first debate was to be the beginning of the end for one of the candidates. There was a general lack of consensus as to which candidate that would be. Supporters of each candidate proclaimed a loss of the other, but many were genuinely apprehensive with the entire situation. As the lights in the Council Chamber dimmed and the American public locked onto their televisions, the two candidates appeared on stage at Hofstra University.
Reporting upon physical appearance is neither journalistic nor relevant within the sphere of politics, but a simple fact must be addressed: Hillary Clinton’s red pantsuit was a noteworthy and powerful statement, and she looked stunning. Albeit a digression, Hillary’s fortified appearance — as with a similarly sturdy Trump — ought to both be noted and applauded. The two candidates looked just of what many consider neither to be: presidential. As the candidates stood resolutely and exchanged a friendly handshake, the general public undoubtedly wondered if perhaps the debate was to be a legitimate exchange of ideology and civil discourse, rather than the widely presumed Hunger Games-esque battlefield of insults and raunchiness.
The next two hours of debating were indeed filled with prominent statements of policy and fair degradation of the opponent — as any political debate warrants — but betwixt these civil exchanges were starkly alternative moments of chaos. Trump’s status as a temperamental adult baby and Hillary’s questionably over-rehearsed one-liners and popular culture pariahs (see Alicia Machado) resulted in the more memorable moments of the debate. Trump’s consistent interrupting of Clinton and the debate moderators, his exposed shadiness in tax history and his grave misunderstanding of New York’s stop-and-frisk laws rendered him an easy target for Hillary’s poised and carefully aimed attacks. Consequently, Hillary Clinton was the clear winner of the first debate.
In the shadows of the first debate, Washington University held a town-hall-style congregation for the second presidential debate. Reeling from recent accusations of sexual abuse and under continuing attacks from WikiLeaks, the two candidates attempted to sway a collection of undecided voters. Unlike the first debate, certain questions posed for the candidates would be asked directly from American citizens, which proved to be the highlight — at least on social media — of the entire debate. Nothing of newfound relevance was proclaimed by either candidate and the entire debate was truly unhelpful in facilitating further understating of either candidate’s policies. Contrarily, the debate was filled with an even higher concentration of falsities and exaggerations by each candidate, moderated by two unskilled and otherwise irrelevant reporters. This debate yielded no clear winner; rather it harmed the platforms of both candidates.
Returning from a subpar second debate, Clinton and Trump appeared at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for the third and final debate. Moderated by Chris Wallace — the true winner of the night — the debate was the candidate’s’ final chance to make their pleas to the American public. The debate opened with immediate gunfire as the candidates engaged in forthright and direct warfare against one another. The mood of the debate quickly shifted from stiff and unwelcoming to harsh and offensive. Russia and its attacks upon the presidential campaign, questionable language regarding immigration and unprecedented and unfounded claims of election rigging all resulted in an overall atmosphere of disorder and disarray. Many news outlets deemed the election one of the most brutal and nasty presidential elections to have ever been broadcasted, and it is hard to disagree after watching. One may argue Hillary may have been the winner of the debate, but the general American public was surely the loser, for the two candidates quickly retreated to name-calling, constant interruption, purposeful lies and the demeaning of personal character.
The three presidential debates were each unique spectacles of our grand political system. With each consecutive debate, Hillary seemed to pull away from Trump in a handful of polls, whereas Trump achieved similar success in others. As we approach Election Day, many still remain unsure just who will be crowned the winner of the American circus. Regardless of who triumphs, we ought to wish them the best of luck, because us common folk will surely being giving them hell.