Monday night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — it can’t really be called a “presidential debate” when two notable parties were barred from participating — was fiery, to say the least.
Those who missed the debate can read a transcript with notes from fact-checkers on NPR.org.
While both candidates seemed cordial at the beginning, that quickly disappeared. They both interrupted each other multiple time, stealing precious seconds from their opponent, and made quips that can only be described as throwing shade.
Trump, to his credit, started off on a good note. He seemed calmer, less red (or orange) in the face. However, his credibility and manners devolved when he interrupted Clinton to state that the housing crisis of 2006-2008 and his eagerness to make money from the crisis were simply business.
And it never got any better for Trump. Toward the end of the debate, he praised Stop and Frisk as an effective and necessary way to reduce crime, . When Trump finished, moderator Lester Holt corrected Trump, stating, “Stop and Frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.”
Trump could have taken this information, said he was mistaken, and moved on. However, that is not his way. Trump’s reply, “No, you’re wrong,” was the absolute wrong thing to say, and when he brought up Stop and Frisk again in his answer to the next question, it was even more cringe-inducing.
On the other side of the stage, Clinton was much more composed, but was anyone really expecting anything else?
Holt’s question on cyber security came close to pushing a nerve, but Clinton delivered her vague response well.
She handled the question as well as anyone who was recently under investigation for unsafely handling classified information could have.
Her biggest strength in the debate was that she refused to play on Trump’s level. While Trump often slipped away from debating and into childish arguing, Clinton refused to slip from her high ground. While Trump responded frequently in single words or short sentences, Clinton spoke in paragraphs.
These are two candidates with different styles of discourse. They do not operate on the same plane; they do not appeal to the same types of voters. This makes declaring a winner in this debate difficult.
While, as a lover of language and nuanced discourse, I believe that Clinton easily carried this debate, Trump’s avid supporters are his avid supporters because they approve of how he has run his campaign so far. This debate was a continuation of the tactics Trump has been using in his campaign all along.
The next presidential debate will be held on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. I look forward to seeing what or if the candidates have learned from this first debate.
Additionally, this second debate is another chance that a third-party candidate could be allowed on stage. As entertaining as Clinton and Trump were, they both are representatives of an unfair system that denies third parties the opportunity to compete on the same level, which is an insult to the American public.
Gary Johnson of the libertarian party seems closest to polling at 15 percent, the threshold for being allowed to debate with the Republican and Democratic candidates. While small, there is a chance that he could raise his numbers between now and then and be given the opportunity to ensure the second presidential debate isn’t just a repeat of the first.