The first presidential debate won’t change anyone’s mind

The first presidential debate won’t change anyone’s mind September 27, 2016

Image: PBS YouTube screen capture
Image: PBS YouTube screen capture
The sad truth about last night’s debate is that those who support Republican nominee Donald Trump won’t change their mind and stop supporting him. Whether that means jumping ship to support Hillary Clinton, or moving to someone like Gary Johnson, it simply won’t happen.

Anyone honestly paying attention knows that Clinton won that debate. While she didn’t offer anything new policy wise, and likely didn’t really change the outcome of the election with her performance, she still walked all over Trump, strategically getting under his skin, and holding him accountable for his aggressive foreign policy plans, his blatant racism and bigotry towards President Obama, and Muslims around the world, to calling him out on his sexism, which was apparent in the very way he said “Secretary Clinton” in the most condescending way possible.

Clinton’s two biggest missed opportunities

Clinton performed well, I won’t take that away from her. She was prepared, her answers, for the most part, were concise, sans the one about implicit bias in the police force in which she really stumbled through that. Yet, she could have made a bigger appeal to progressives had she spoken about more about two specific areas I noticed.

First, she still spoke about America as a world police force. When discussing our role in foreign countries, her history of hawkishness was apparent, and Trump tried a few times to capitalize on that. She talked about using troops to defeat ISIS in Iraq and then on to Syria.

Secondly, when talking about racism, police violence, and gun control, she should have had the upper hand. Trump was touting law and order, stop and frisk, and reminded us all of the wonderful America in which police beat the living hell out of African Americans with impunity. His racism shined bright, it was there for the world to see.

Then, Clinton talked about banning people on the no-fly list from buying guns. While she spoke against systemic racism, she then stood up for a list that targets mainly Muslim-Americans and people of color without due process and finds them guilty of nothing but is enough to take away their rights.

We do need stronger gun control laws, much stronger, but they should not rely on a xenophobic and racist list of people that Americans are afraid of.

Trump had no answers

Trump was his own worst enemy. When given two minutes to speak, he would take four, but would quickly show he didn’t have an answer and would turn completely incoherent. The longer he talked, the crazier it seemed to get. His recycled, drinking game words, kept creeping out. He was going to create “major jobs” and cut taxes “bigly” and has a plan to destroy ISIS, but again, won’t tell anyone what it is.

When asked about the ruling that stop and frisk is unconstitutional, he claimed it didn’t happen and that murder actually increased after the policy was killed. Moderator Lester Holt told Trump point blank that murder had gone down to which Trump only replied, “no it didn’t.”

Spoiler alert, it did, dramatically.

Trump’s campaign was online deleting tweets in real time that contradicted claims made by him on stage, such as climate change being a Chinese conspiracy.

Outcomes

Independent voters generally vote Democratic, historically speaking. There is little reason to believe Trump is the candidate who is going to suddenly grab these voters in large numbers to swing the election. National polls suggest a tie, but national polls are meaningless. We don’t elect presidents based on the popular vote, and Trump isn’t carrying many states that will matter.

While Clinton didn’t win over Trump supporters with her performance, the truth is she was never going to.

Trump’s incoherent sexism, racism, and long winded rants to nowhere are exactly what his supporters are rallying behind. They don’t care about substance, they care that someone who supports their hate is this close to being elected.

On the left, the socialists like myself don’t see much hope in either candidate, while I have said I would rather be a revolutionary activist under Clinton than I would under Trump. I am concerned about Clinton’s neoliberal hawkish record, her refusal to fight for healthcare for all in the way it should be, and instead, leaves many working poor uninsured.

Regardless of how I feel about Clinton personally, she left the corpse of Donald Trump on that stage last night, and an undecided voter has zero excuses for supporting Trump. The correct choice now is either full abstinence from the presidential ballot, a third-party vote, or to support Clinton.

When people talk about throwing your vote away, they often look at third-parties, but this year they should be looking at Trump. A vote for him is a vote to throw away everything America can be. Forget what we have been or what we are, Trump isn’t a step forward or backward, he is a step directly into the trash and his neofascism takes charge and any progressive future for this country is gone.

This election should be over. Liberals have their candidate and they are the only ones who can lose this election. They failed to gain the left’s support by rejecting someone like Bernie Sanders, but they still have the overwhelming majority of likely voters in this country, and they even have more than 80 percent of Sanders supporters.

Trump should be dead in the water, and the fact he isn’t should be worrying to liberals and Democrats. They now have the upperhand, but what will they do with it?

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