Election 2016, Opinion

Clinton succeeds on emotional, policy appeals in first debate

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Izia Lindsay // Contributing Cartoonist

The debate ended in a Trump tantrum over new attack ads that Hillary Clinton has released. The ads are primarily clips of Donald Trump played back in front of children, girls, people with disabilities and others he has insulted. Trump fumbled to paint Hillary as “mean” for spending on these attack ads when his entire campaign has been run on offensive attacks toward women, immigrants and many other demographic groups.

I guess Trump just didn’t have the “stamina” to get through a 90-minute debate.

Hillary Clinton unequivocally won the first debate.

She may have started with low-energy, bringing up policies that are important but that some Americans feel are tired, including closing corporate loopholes, paid family leave and equal pay for women. It seemed in those opening moments that Clinton would be the cool, collected figure that has left many voters, especially us millennials, feeling uninspired.

However, by the end of the first block of questions, the scale began to balance out. Trump was playing fairly well as usual on trade, but started to come across as unprepared when basically the only policy proposal he brought up to improve the economy was to cut corporate taxes.

Debates have never been about policy. The format forces them to revolve around emotion and personalization, but surprisingly, Trump failed on those points even worse than he did on policy.

The shameful themes that ran through the second and third portions of the debate were deeply set racism and sexism. Trump could not successfully separate himself from the “birther” debate. He could not lie his way out of the profoundly racist rhetoric, because it was his most heavily publicized intrusion into politics before this year. More notably, his defense of alleged discrimination against black tenants was a cringe-worthy “but everyone was doing it” type of response.

He further revealed his disconnect to the black and Latino communities facing endemic violence when the primary solution he proposed to improve criminal justice was the highly discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy.

His comments from the beginning of the debate attributing Clinton’s professional success to her husband, through the end, when he emphatically claimed his superior “temperament,” demonstrated overt sexism and a lack of self-awareness that came across poorly.

Though Clinton’s recent drop in the polls was sparked by her “deplorables” comments, it didn’t scare her from calling out Trump’s racism and sexism when she knew it was necessary. And it worked.

In the heat of the spotlight, facing unscripted, serious questions, Clinton beat Trump at his own game: reality television. If Clinton can beat Trump at reality television, there is no way he can beat her at leading the country. She owns her game, and tonight, she owned his too.

She prepared well, took notes during the debate and brought out the feisty, “fighting for you” Hillary, who has the power to excite voters. She put it best herself, “Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate, and yes I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president.”

Annie Cappetta is a junior majoring in ecosystem science and policy and political science. 

September 27, 2016

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Annie Cappetta


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