In the aftermath of the first presidential debate, one thing is for certain – the absolute inadequacy of both Clinton and Trump. Even calling this rehearsed contest of stiff upper lip a debate is as much a misnomer as calling a Carrot Top routine high art. Trump and Clinton were talking past each other, insulting each other and generally defacing themselves in front of the largest audience that such a circus has managed to ensnare.
The lack of substance was a symptom of a broken system that fails to provide an intelligently designed forum for discussion and logical argument. Each candidate was given only two minutes to respond to either very general or entirely neutered questions. The two windbags were in no way prevented from interrupting, and at the same time were not held accountable for answering each other’s questions. All of this guaranteed a horrible signal to noise ratio.
The first segment was called “Achieving Prosperity,” with the first question asking what makes either candidate better for creating paying jobs. Clinton jumped to pluck at heartstrings mentioning her family as inspiration before directly copying Bernie Sanders’ Robin Hood turned tax-collector rhetoric. Referring directly to the audience, she promises to invest in “you” – an appeal lost on everybody who is aware of the political incentives to make empty promises, especially in such an uninquisitive environment and coming from someone who used underhanded tactics against the opponent she now parrots. Trump’s response was the same line he has given over and over again, blaming Mexico and China for “stealing our jobs.”
When Trump brought up the Federal Reserve’s continued policy of record low interest rates, the host immediately turned the discussion to Trump’s tax returns. This was a huge missed opportunity to compare the candidates’ positions on an issue affecting not only the health of the nation’s economy, but the entire system of global finance.
The means by which fiat currency has been manipulated since the departure from the gold standard and the massive inflation predicted in the coming decades are both serious issues that should have been addressed directly and with sufficient time.
Ultimately, neither candidate broached the subject as the undisclosed tax returns stole the limelight.
Trump trying to play the victim card regarding his yearly audit was laughable. In the IRS’s eyes, once a tax evader, always a tax evader. But he then stated plainly that if Clinton released the 30,000 emails she scrubbed out of existence, he would release his tax returns. Holt asked “so it’s negotiable then?” and interruped Trump when he responded “no” and restated the one condition he gave – the exhumation of Clinton’s dirty laundry. When given the opportunity to answer why she purged those emails, she freely sidestepped the question and gleefully listed what she suspected Trump might be hiding in his tax returns, saying “it must be something really important, even terrible, that he’s trying to hide.” A laughable accusation after her use of a personal server was a “mistake” and ignored the line of inquiry into her blatant attempts to bury her crimes.
Trump’s concerns regarding the nation’s outdated and decaying infrastructure were left by the wayside, in what could have been a good transition into the “America’s direction” segment of the debate. Rather than opening with what plans the candidates have for developing and investing in the future of the country, Holt turned the discussion to the ever regressive issue of race politics and handed the discussion to Clinton for her rehearsed diatribe of division. Calling for developing relations between groups initially, she soon mentioned that the “gun epidemic” is the leading cause of death for young African-Americans. What was supposed to be a discussion of the future turned to an unproductive argument over gun control.
Ultimately, both candidates are for the continued invasion of Americans’ private lives in the name of national security and for heightened military involvement across the globe. In their own ways, both will prune personal liberty and economic opportunity. It is not in the interest of either of their parties to hold fair debates that allow the public to quickly digest the candidates’ positions and blind spots. I do not believe anyone was convinced to pack up their tents, because the only difference between both camps are in the exact form of their shared delusions.