Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, on one stage. What a way to spend a Monday night. Trump, wearing more makeup than his female counterpart, standing in the left corner. Clinton, or Clifford the Big Red Dog, in the right corner. Where, oh where, should I start?
First of all, Lester Holt; the guy shouldn’t be criticized for his poor moderation skills. I mean, come on, it was a total lose-lose situation. We all know that once round one started, no one was containing the fight. His silence and lack of moderation allowed the candidates to voice some policies. If he did add more of his voice and interrupt, we all would have complained that he didn’t allow for a free flowing debate. Let him be.
Secondly, I propose that these debates should be taped and released with a 20 minute delay. Fact-checking has become so essential that it should be scrolling across the bottom of the screen like a New York Stock Exchange ticker.
Third, Lester, that last question? Really? I am going to criticize that. Did you just ask them if they would be okay if they lost? Sorry to inform you, but the Presidential runner-up doesn’t get a badge for participation. Do you expect the loser to start a Civil War? And then Trump’s answer. All he really said coherently was, “Let’s make America Great Again.”
Oh, speaking of Trump. Please blow your nose. Sorry, but I had to say it. And please stop rolling your eyes when Hillary says something. And would you stop interrupting? Thanks.
You see, it is hard to write an opinion piece on a debate when what you’re actually watching is two grown adults bickering back and forth as if it were recess on the playground and Tommy took the tire swing. That debate can’t even be classified as such. In fact, I am going to go so far as to say that what millions of citizens saw Monday night shouldn’t even be remembered.
The presidential debates are held solely because it is an opportunity for the American people to judge the character, charisma and nonsense that gets thrown at us by Presidential hopefuls. We watch in hopes to see that one candidate says that one thing, or reacts that one way or do that hand motion that simply looks presidential. Because when we find the “that”, well then, we have found our vote.
Now, that isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. We, the American people, want to see everything that we think embodies a president on that stage. Part of that comes with their appearance. It is a natural fact of human existence to judge people on what they say, what they do and how they look doing it, especially when we are trying to elect someone for this position. I don’t have a problem with that. I do, however, have a problem when that takes center stage.
The facts of the debate are completely ignored and all we focus on are the debating skills and how an individual looks in front of a camera, character traits that hardly embody a successful president.
President Kennedy has long been regarded as one of the best debaters. Why? Because he was a fantastic speaker, but also because he wore a fancy suit, had an awesome hairstyle and a penetratingly bright smile. His appearance held more weight than his policy during the debates, and that appearance helped carry him to the Oval Office. Since then, the American public has put more value in the presidential debates than it should.
Prior to the debate on Monday, I did some research on past debates and found something astonishing that is rarely, if ever, discussed. Remember four years ago when it was Romney verses Obama? Romney was declared the winner of almost every debate, Obama is our current president though. Four years before that, with McCain and Obama, the overwhelming majority of major news outlets had declared McCain the better debater. Going back further, the same held true for the Bush campaign where his opponent had won the debates and subsequently lost the election.
Furthermore, my idea of a debate includes hearing multiple arguments both for and against certain issues. That includes supporting arguments and statements. That didn’t happen. All we saw was Trump leaning into a microphone saying, “Wrong!” and Hillary smiling at the camera in a great attempt not to do the same thing. It wasn’t a presidential debate. Rather, it was a presidential debacle.
Just think—when you were talking to friends about watching the debate, what did at least one person say? “I’ll watch because it is going to be entertaining.” I know someone who said this, and you’d be lying to yourself if you didn’t believe others thought it too. And, that is a problem.
People, this isn’t entertainment. This election is to find the next leader of our country. One of them is going to win regardless of whether you like it or not. It is time to push past the shock and awe of how we got to this point. Yeah, some will say it is the system, but again, it doesn’t matter. We have two candidates in front of us and we have to choose one.
So I ask, I urge, I beg you all to take yourself out of the entertainment we all find ourselves wrapped up in and make a conscious, educated choice. A choice that is backed up by thought and reasoning and not laughs and puns, because that is really all that is required of us.