The Final Debate and The Pain of This Election Cycle
I have done a lot of writing about the election this year. I’ve focused primarily on the shameful candidacy of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President. I have also spoken about the difficulties many have had in resigning to voting for Hillary Clinton–who seems very untrustworthy (especially for African Americans) and often hostile to leftist causes. What is a young, black female voter to do? While it is regrettable that we do not have a better Democratic candidate, this regret does not compare to the pain and intolerance that has been brought on by Trump’s candidacy and, if he wins, his potential presidency.
The Presidential Debate: Abortion
This week Trump and Clinton participated in the last presidential debate, which, although personal insults were plentiful, was more policy focused than the previous two. First, during a question about the Supreme Court, the candidates discussed abortion rights in the United States. Trump offered a graphic and unknowledgeable answer about partial birth abortion, suggesting that doctors will “rip the baby out” on the “final day” of a woman’s pregnancy. This characterization of late-term abortions is heartbreaking for many women and families who have had to make this decision.
Trump’s answer demonstrates a deep misunderstanding about abortion. Trump clearly has not taken time to understand what women are going through when they have to make the choice to terminate a pregnancy. Further, Trump has previously been pro-choice, so it is not likely he even believes in or cares about what he is saying. Clinton, on the other hand, offered a strong, steady answer putting women and their families front and center.
She said “I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.” Clinton drew on her experience as First Lady and Secretary of State, when she says she visited nations who either force women to have abortions or make them carry to term, and strongly underscores that the state should not interfere with those decisions.
Next, on immigration, the discussion devolved into ridiculousness: Trump put forth his idea to build a wall on the Mexican border, because we have some “bad hombres,” i.e. Mexican drug lords making their way across the border. This racist characterization of the millions of Mexican immigrants in the United States is pathetic and disrespectful. It has nothing to do with security and everything to do with xenophobia and hate.
While it is true that the Obama Administration has deported many people and families, and this policy will likely continue under a Clinton Administration, Clinton at least proposes that she no longer wants to divide families and wants to end private detention centers. This is not nearly far enough; however, Clinton’s plan seems much more humane compared to Trump’s mass deportation plan. Even so, it is absolutely pathetic that the American people and the millions waiting to become American citizens have to settle for these paltry immigration plans.
Clinton pivoted her way out of immigration to a discussion about Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin, the Russian President whose agents have been interfering in the Presidential election, in an attempt to sway it in Trump’s direction. It is absolute garbage that Putin is interfering in our elections and monitoring American citizens; yet, Donald Trump does not care, because he thinks he could potentially get along with him.
It is, of course, not a new possibility that the United States could prop up or support a totalitarian state, yet Trump’s transparent weakness on this issue leaves our national security in jeopardy. Trump would, without a doubt, allow the Kremlin to continue to threaten the sovereignty of formerly Soviet states. Additionally, Trump refused to concede that Russia had done any wrong, although seventeen American intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia was behind the attacks. This resistance to plain facts is disturbing.
Over the past three weeks, a number of women have come forth and opened up about their experiences with Trump, confirming his words on an Access Hollywood tape, that he gropes or sexually assaults women. Clinton pointed out that in response to these allegations, Trump was not apologetic or gracious. He continued to insult the women, suggesting that they were not attractive enough for him to consider sexually assaulting them.
The moderator also attempted to make Clinton answer for her husband’s past and the women who he himself has had either extra-marital affairs with or sexually assaulted. Fortunately, Clinton sidestepped the answer and they did not continue to press her on it. I personally cannot grapple with how Hillary continues to support and remain married to her husband in light of their history and the allegations against him. Even so, I winced at the possibility that Clinton, or any wife, would have to answer the nation for her husband’s behavior.
Rigged Election and Not Supporting the Eventual Winner
In a pointed exchange between Trump and Chris Wallace, the debate’s moderator, Trump did not back down from his claims that this would be a rigged election. He also stated that he would just have to “look at” the results of the election before deciding if he would accept them. It is completely surreal to concede that the future of American democracy hinges on whether Donald Trump, host of The Apprentice, believes if the election is fair or not. In the days following the election, Trump said he would accept the results of the American election, “if I win.”
If. He. Wins.
While Hillary Clinton is not a perfect candidate, Trump’s words are unprecedented, this campaign has been unbearable, and I refuse to stand by and allow this man who refuses to accept reality or responsibility become the spokesperson for our nation or the head of the military. Clinton and Trump are not the same, and Clinton is not the lesser of two evils. I have spent a lot of time talking about Trump because he is a clear and present danger for our nation. Clinton is a sensible human being, a center left politician. Her presidency was never going to bring the revolution, but, I can say with some confidence, that it is also not going to curb the rights and protections that many of us enjoy and that our ancestors have fought for.
It is a shame that I have to say we will not lose everything with a Clinton presidency, and I could discuss what we will gain; yet this line of argument is important because losing what we have is a certain outcome in the case of a Trump presidency. This is not hyperbole, this is not fear-mongering. One only needs to look at the violence Trump’s candidacy has provoked and the hatred that has been given voice in his name. I am not certain that Trump comprehends how his words or actions are making Americans less safe, and I am not certain that he cares. At the end of this election, Trump’s primary concern will continue to be himself, his reputation, and his money. Whatever is left whether he wins or loses, he will use to uplift himself, while his supporters wallow in the indignity of having supported the worst Presidential candidate in American history.
While it is difficult and painful to compare these two candidates, it is unquestionably clear, for women, for Black people, for minorities, for children, for Mexicans, for immigrants, for refugees, for Muslims, and for veterans, that Clinton is the rational choice for 2016.