The Presidential debates – winners and losers
American people and the race for the White House
The Presidential debates in the running for the White House shows that the American people will be the ultimate losers. The combatants will pick up where they left off and the American people can expect more of the same in the next 4 or 8 years.
Each side to the second presidential debate fiasco on 9 October 2016, claimed to have won in one way or the other. But the biggest losers are the American voters who are in an unenviable position, caught between a rock and a hard place, they must choose the lesser of two evils.
The second presidential debate came a few days after the Washington Post released a 2005 video of a tape of Donald Trump deploying pretty unsavoury language about women, and there have been many more. That was closely followed by WikiLeaks’ release of 2000 or so emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. A day or so later, CNN struck back with release of more recording of Trump’s lewd conversation with Howard Stern. The stage was set for a no holds barred second presidential debate on Sunday night – it was going to be down and dirty – and we were not disappointed.
By the night of the debate, gloves were off in Trump’s camp, he was going for the jugular. He came to the debate with three women who had accused Clinton of sexual abuse in the past and a fourth who was on the other side of the courtroom in a rape case where Hillary represented the accused. Paula Jones (to whom Bill Clinton paid an $885,000 out of court settlement), Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton. Escorted by this brigade of women and armed with Hillary’s questionable disposal of 33,000 emails, Le Trump came to do damage. The stage was set!
Donald Trump looked a little bit nervous before the debate started. However, Donald soon found as the debate progressed, that like a catfish, his prey kept slipping out of his grasp, he could not do enough to wipe the smugness off Hillary’s face. He complained incessantly about being treated less fairly by the moderators. He seemed unsettled throughout the debate. In his customary style he avoided all questions, and directed his ire at Bill Clinton’s record of sexual abuse allegations and impeachment. Bill Clinton looked increasingly nervous and pained throughout the debate, he wished he were somewhere else.
But Trump’s most vicious attack was about Hillary’s disposal of 33,000 emails followed by a threat that Hillary belonged in jail.
On the other hand, Hillary had only one message. The same one she has been peddling since she has been squaring off against Trump. And now armed with the lewd Trump tapes, she delivered it with a more devastating effect – Donald Trump is dangerous for America, he is dangerous for you. She sat back, and watched Trump floundering and grasping. It worked!
The American people’s future is in the hands of a veteran politician, with 30 years of public service and a catastrophic catalogue of foreign policy disasters in Libya, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. They have to trust a presidential candidate with a history of unsavoury family compromises, saddled with a husband with a string of sexual allegations and improprieties. Hillary has no message for millions of disenfranchised Americans who have been marginalised by decades of conservative policies by Republicans and Democrats alike. Their fate is in the hands of a Democratic party, shifted so far right that it not only resembles its conservative rival, it has now outdone the Republicans. Since 1994, Bill Clinton’s Crime Bill supported and promoted by Hillary has militarised the police, seen to the expansion of the prison complex, privatised justice and enacted laws incarcerating millions of Americans. Hillary has no message for the 2.3 million Americans in its jails. She has no message for those who lost loved ones to extrajudicial killings, she has no message about bankers who are too big to jail, no message for the millions of Americans living below the poverty line, she has no message for the disenfranchised.
But here is the thing, Trump, as unsavoury as he may appear, is the fruit of the Democrats own policies which has created large corporate power like his and which Hillary Clinton and her machine will continue to defend. In fact, for those who may have missed it, Trump acknowledged during the debate that he took advantage of tax loopholes which Hillary Clinton has helped to maintain and which she will continue to maintain because of her backers.
Trump is necessary to the Clinton campaign. He is the poster boy of extreme right, fascist America. And the rational for most people is this – “we don’t have the luxury of a better Democratic candidate, a candidate with a message, we need to get behind Hillary or we’ll have trigger-happy Trump nuking us all into oblivion”.
Americans are now left in a quandary, they know Hillary is bad for them, but look at the alternative, they say, it is unthinkable. While Trump is in play, the electorate is distracted from scrutinising Hillary’s record of support and promotion of a reality that will follow her into the White House – endless wars, mass incarceration, a militarised police force, extrajudicial killings, corporate power and greed, marginalisation of the poor, the people of colour and the weak. While Trump is in play, Hillary can continue to peddle her one message until November: “beware of Trump”.
While the second presidential debate livened up our imagination, and scored for Hillary Clinton, the real losers in the end will be the American people. They must now choose their poison – Clinton or Trump. Whichever way they choose, they lose.
Published on 20 October 2016 in The European Financial Review.