The first official presidential debate aired on Monday Sept. 26 from Hofstra University and was wholly indicative of voters’ frustrations, polarized viewpoints and discontent with the current state of the nation. This presidential campaign is unique because of the tenacity with which we defend or attack the candidates––both current and eliminated. The campaign trail has been littered with harsh comments, political mud-raking, Twitter fights and behavior that is unfit for anyone on the road to the White House. Our only hope was that the official start of the presidential race would somehow clean up that road.
Solidifying our skepticism, it took less than half an hour for each candidate to mention economic policies without explaining concrete plans. Republican nominee Donald Trump mentioned former United States president Ronald Reagan’s administration policies which—according to multiple studies done by the Mises Institute of Economics and The New York Times—had side effects including sparking a brief recession and massively increasing the value of the dollar.
Trump inevitably lashed out at former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton about her email scandal, who formally admitted it was a mistake. Trump also challenged Clinton’s legitimacy regarding her experience and claimed to have endorsements from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement—which is not legally possible. The businessman fell right into his abrasive and factless routine, interrupting his opponent an absurd number of times.
On the Democratic side, Clinton briefly mentioned holding the wealthy financially responsible, but she never specified how she would do so besides raising their taxes. To most this may sound similar to pandering without true specifics.
Clinton also made statements regarding foreign policy, such as maintaining our sovereignty while assisting allies and increasing our domestic jobs. This is where Clinton has not entirely succeeded—her appeasements, generalizations and incredibly rehearsed phrases leave voters happy but with no definitive policy.
Overall, we should be terribly disappointed to be American voters after Monday night’s debate. It’s generally expected that these events are filled to the brim with historical allusions and terrible generalizations, but this debate was even below that regular standard.
Both candidates failed to break free of their molds. Trump didn’t last long before he started to rely on his usual aggressive statements and interruptions, and Clinton was hardly any less bureaucratic-leaning and pandering than usual.
We have nobody to blame but ourselves for allowing our elections, our elected officials and our political ideologies to become so bitter and polarized. The only assuring thing that came out of that debate was watching my peers’ overall disgust—which shows that the need for change haunts this election.