Take Aways from the First Presidential Debate

By Khalea Robertson

Takeaways from the 1st US Presidential Debate

Last Monday’s debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump didn’t offer any new information on the candidates’ policies (or lack thereof), respective pedigree (see previous parenthesis) or personalities (or, to use a buzzword, ‘temperament’). So, at risk of sounding like your parents during an argument, let’s reiterate what has already been extensively covered.

1    What’s the plan?

‘You don’t have a plan!’ One could be forgiven for thinking that was an accusation levelled at a certain ‘Republican’. But it was in fact aimed the other way. At the Democrat who concisely highlighted some key points of her strategy for economic stability and job creation supported by pesky things such as facts, figures and expert projections.

Meanwhile, across the divide, there stood a man who ripped into major deals and agreements negotiated within the last two or so decades with little regard for their actual contents or results or participants in their creation (because if not Clinton, who?). What he rarely provided though, was any solution for the multiplicity of problems perceived. However, as a self-proclaimed business success there was one issue Trump could dance his way around.

2    Show me the money!

Trump’s plan for the economy boils down to providing the wealthy with incentives to expand their businesses and create jobs domestically. Nothing surprising there, it’s typical conservative economics. Also not surprising is the way Trump displayed pride in how he has managed to avoid paying federal taxes, wished to exploit a collapse of the housing sector and actively searches for loopholes in the constitution in his business dealings. (Actual Trump quote – ‘I take advantage of the laws of the nation’.)

When it came to questions about his personal finances, the businessman showed incredible skill in saying a lot without ever answering the question. I think he’s trying to appeal to college students.

3    Battle of the stock phrases

Race and ethnicity. The ambiguity of the candidates’ responses reflected the complex nature of the issue. In that they did not offer plans as much as clichés. Clinton repeated the desire to ‘restore trust between communities and police’. Trump managed to use the phrase ‘law and order’ five times in two minutes.

This segment seemed to go off the rails. Clinton exploited Trump’s bleak depiction of ethnic minorities in the inner cities as an opportunity to pander to black voters. Trump countered that he had ‘developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African-American community’ (there is precisely zero evidence of this). He then talked about a nightclub he owned in South Florida. Clinton described American Muslims as being “on the frontlines” of the fight against IS and shoved responsibility of providing information unto them as if they hold weekly nationwide Skype conferences to suss out potential threats.

Trump was unprepared and disruptive and the only time Clinton’s outward confidence dimmed in the slightest was concerning email-gate.  Pretty much as expected then.

Image: “American Flag” by Denise Krebs licensed under CC BY 2.0

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