The 2016 Presidential Election presents us all with a difficult choice. No two candidates could be more polarizing than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. In a few days, we’ll be presented with a decision that will shape the course of the next four years, and it’s up to the American people to make the right one. Since it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with politics given its fast-paced nature, I thought it would be nice to share some of the highlights across the three Presidential debates.
The first debate was hotly anticipated for months. Featuring the first time both Clinton and Trump were together before a large crowd to argue about important topics, this debate, which was held on September 26, had over 84 million viewers tuned in across thirteen of the TV channels that were broadcasting it live (not counting all the people who watched online). Many news networks speculated that the first debate hosted by Lester Holt would be a gloves-off battleground, and they were right since both Trump and Clinton launched attacks that have been building for weeks. Moderator Lester Holt started the debate with a question on jobs and income inequality in America. Secretary Clinton responded by saying that we need more opportunities in infrastructure and innovative technology, and Trump said that our jobs are leaving the country since American companies are employing people from other countries. These answers didn’t offer us anything new – Clinton presented a plan and Trump presented another problem. However, Trump suddenly brought up ISIS and Clinton responded by saying that at least she has a plan. Throughout the debates, this pivoting happened a lot. In the first debate, Trump tended to blame Clinton so much that Clinton said, “I have a feeling that by the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything.” Trump responded with, “Why not?” It’s talk like this that set the stage for the next two debates. Trump mentioned experience and stamina;Clinton restated her plans, pointed to her website, and responded to every attack on her by Trump. The topic of Trump and sexism was brought into focus when Clinton talked about Alicia Macchiato, a woman who was part of a beauty contest and harassed by Trump. Perhaps my favorite line from this debate came from Trump, who said, “I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself I can’t do it.” I mean… you can’t just keep us in suspense, Donald – did I say that too soon? Also, the topic of tax returns was brought up. Clinton said that “for the past 40 years, everyone running for President has released their tax returns” and posed the question of “Why?” to Trump. Trump responded by saying that his tax returns are under audit and that he can’t release them (even though he very much can). This vicious debate was exciting, to say the least, but it was the tip of the iceberg for what was to come.
The second debate was held on October 9. After a rather slow Vice-Presidential debate that was ultimately a regurgitation of what came before, potential voters around the country were ready for an even more charged debate. While the first debate failed to reach questions such as immigration policy, this forum in which undecided voters asked tough questions to both the candidates. Moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, the debate was coming fresh off of new revelations about Trump’s sexual predation and Clinton’s leaked emails. Prior to the debate, an Access Hollywood bus tape from a few years ago was leaked online showing Trump saying vulgar things about women. The words that we heard over and over days before the debate were “locker room talk” as Trump apologized and said that what he did was just small talk. However, the tides were turned as many Trump supporters backed off and started to criticize the Donald. On the debate, this criticism clearly shined through as Clinton held no punches. Secretary Clinton said, “You know with prior Republican nominees for President, I disagreed with them on politics, policies, principles, but I never questioned their fitness to serve. Donald Trump is different.” Trump had his own comments on sexual predation as he pointed out that Bill Clinton was “far worse.” Trump also made huge statements saying that Hillary would be in jail after she questioned his temperament. Issues regarding the military were also brought up. Both candidates talked about Humayun Khan, an American-Muslim hero who died serving in Iraq. The second debate really shed some light on who these people are inside and what they would do if elected President. It showed the deep tension between the two as Trump frequently stood behind Clinton and looked down at her while she talked. Regardless of all the verbal fighting, the man who stole everyone’s hearts was Ken Bone, the red sweater wearing, undecided voter who posed an important question on energy policy. I guess the internet was dying for a new meme so it latched onto this lovable walking/talking teddy bear. Honestly, I have a hard time remembering what happened in the 2nd debate since Ken Bone stole it for me. The last question in the debate asked both candidates to say something nice about each other. Clinton said that Trump raised great children and Trump complimented Clinton’s resolve. This was a rather touchy ending to an otherwise bloody debate.
The third and final debate was held on October 19 and was hosted by Chris Wallace. The debate presented important issues on the fitness to serve of each candidate. New Wikileaks information on Clinton’s hacked emails gave both candidates a lot to talk about, but Trump used this opportunity to get back at Clinton after the last debate. The result was a fast draw standoff that left neither candidate unscathed. Topics that were discussed included the two candidates’ charity foundations (Trump’s Donald J. Trump Foundation and Clinton’s Clinton Foundation), election rigging, immigration, Russia, the economy, and accepting the outcome of the debate. Clinton used recent allegations of sexual assault against Trump to mitigate the effect of Trump’s allegations that she is corrupt. When posed with any question from Chris Wallace, the two ultimately went off track and began launching personal attacks on each other. On Russia, Clinton talked about how she believes that Trump is Putin’s puppet, and this was when Trump said one of my favorite lines: “NO, YOU’RE THE PUPPET.” I’ll leave that there for you, the reader, to digest. On the topic of immigration, Trump talked about his plan to build a wall, saying that we got some “bad hombres” there, which was another blunder from the Donald. Trump said that the economy was going down because we were losing jobs to people from other countries. This was nothing new, but Clinton responded more on this topic than she did in the previous debates. Clinton wants to grow the middle/lower class citizens of the country, and Trump wants to implement the trickle down theory. On the topic of emails, Clinton immediately digressed to attacking Trump, which was a problem for the former First Lady. On the topic of election rigging, Trump believes that voter fraud will ruin the election even though there are many analytics that say otherwise. Perhaps the biggest argument across the three debates came in this topic after Wallace asked Trump if he will absolutely accept the outcome of the debate. Trump responded by saying the most absurd things he’s said yet. He said he will “look at it at the time” and that he will “tell you at the time.” This idea of creating problems in the peaceful transition of power is not okay for the country and as Clinton said, “that’s horrifying.” The best line of this debate, in my opinion, came after this line when Hillary Clinton said, “Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him… he said the FBI was rigged… He said the Republican primary was rigged against him… he claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him… There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him.” Trump even went on to call Clinton a “nasty woman” after Clinton talked about social security. If the second debate was a bloodbath, this one was a gorefest. If the second debate was a box of store brand frosted flakes (not as good as the original Kelloggs stuff), this debate was a box of store brand corn flakes. The third and final Presidential Debate ended in a rough bitterness that polarized each candidate even more.
Now, I want to say this: if you don’t want to get involved in politics, that is fine. However, being a part of this country is a great thing, and engaging in discussions about tough topics in a civil manner is what keeps us going. Now that this article is done, I want to ask you: Who do you want to run the country for the next four years? If you can vote, the choice is yours.