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Debate Disappointment

October 10, 2016
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The second presidential debate of this election cycle has now come and gone. As an American, I am left disappointed. The first debate appeared to have a clearly defined victor in Hillary Clinton. I, admittedly, was not on board with Clinton until after the Democratic primaries and the concession of Bernie Sanders. Sanders had many incredible promises and expectations for his candidacy that many would have liked to see come to fruition. When Sanders conceded to Clinton, I was hopeful that Clinton nominate Sanders as her running mate. I believe the two of them could be an incredible force together.

It’s of no surprise that I am no fan of Donald Trump. I don’t attribute my disdain for him as a basis on his recent comments about women, although I do have my opinions on that matter but will save them for another time. He is inexperienced as a politician, having never run for office at any stage of his career. He is inconceivably thin-skinned and plays dirty, but this is nothing new. This is his personality. The actions and words he has shown of his character during his campaign, are nothing out of his ordinary being.

I, like millions, sat down last night to watch the presidential debate. In truth, hoping Clinton would mop the floor with Trump’s hair piece as she did in the first debate. I was hoping she would maintain her presidential, educated, sophisticated, demeanor, maintain her position on the high road and leave the trashing to Trump’s own words and actions. Clinton’s ad campaigns of late are utilizing Trump’s own words against him and Trump continually denies the things he has and does say, yet, Clinton is the liar to many voters.

I find the expectations held for each candidate are far different when, realistically, they shouldn’t be. There is no politician that has served in office throughout the history of our nation that has had a spotless record. John F. Kennedy was a womanizer. Richard Nixon had Watergate. Reagan secretly sold weapons to Iran. Bill Clinton had his sex scandal. George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction, sending Americans into a dark and costly war. George W. Bush’s white house administration also, conveniently, “lost” twenty-two million emails from a private server between 2003 and 2009. Donald Trump has treated women as sexual objects, cheated on his wife, humiliated Machado, and generally discredited women as nothing more than a play toy. Clinton has Benghazi and e-mail scandals. She is also being scrutinized for her position during husband Bill Clinton’s time in office.

My expectations, and I imagine the expectations of others, is that our leader be strong and assertive while maintaining poise, respect and understanding. The job of POTUS is not an easy one. It is one I certainly could not do, nor could very many Americans. Quick decisions must often be made and the consequences of those decisions could be fruitful or fatal. I would not want that pressure on me. The expectation for Clinton seems to be that her record should be spotless. She should be the most perfect, shining, prime example of a human being. She is not afforded the opportunity or forgiveness of making mistakes or potentially lying. Everybody lies. Everybody…. Every. Body. While the expectation is for Clinton to maintain perfection, Trump’s glaring failures, falsehoods, and general buffoonery are overlooked. Why is that? Is it a subconscious gender bias? Is it because he is a white male millionaire? Is it because that’s just who he is? I do not know. I can’t grasp the reasoning that folks support him but I will not denounce anyone’s chosen support of him. I simply don’t understand it. But why is his expectation so vastly different than that of Hillary Clinton? The standards set for Clinton should be maintained for Trump. He has proven, time and again, he doesn’t have the resolve to maintain poise during times of trial.

I can’t even begin to imagine what pressure our politicians may be under while in office. The average American has no clue. Clinton has been a career politician. She’s made mistakes. They all have. I don’t get the impression, however, that she feels or felt particularly great about the deaths of four in Benghazi. She is a mother and a grandmother. She knows those murdered had families and she will be haunted and have to live with that outcome for the rest of her life. The families of those murdered have to live with it the rest of their lives and they are being reminded of it each time it is brought up as a leveraging point against Clinton. She has accepted responsibility for the security lapses identified in Libya. Many Americans place the blame solely on Clinton’s head for failing to send in additional security. While understandable, there are far more people involved in the decision and implementation phases of emergency situations.

Trump has never found himself facing these seemingly insurmountable situations. He’s never been faced with a legitimate threat to national security. He’s never held the fate of people within his tiny hands. Trump has had his own set of failures; multiple bankruptcies, failed business ventures, failed marriages, etc. Failure is not an abnormal part of business and generally, not an abnormal part of politics. Trump is incredibly wealthy for one reason or another. He’s been snake-ish in his failure to pay contractors for what he considers “sub-par” work. He’s hired undocumented workers, the very same people he wishes to deport, for his businesses in Florida.

I was disappointed in Hillary Clinton’s performance. I won’t hide that. I had higher expectations for her as she has held herself in relatively good form since receiving the Democratic nomination but she stooped last night. She fell to nearly the level of Trump and that left me saddened and uncomfortable. While I believe she should defend herself, she struggled early. She struggled to defend her positions and to defend the attacks laid out early by Trump. She resulted to diverting some of the many questions proposed to her by Cooper and Raddatz. I expected more from her, not because she’s a woman or because she’s a career politician, simply because she is above that. She’s leaps and bounds above the below-the-belt tactics her opponent utilizes. Last night, she slipped.

I hope to see a rebound in the third, and final, debate. I am cheering for Clinton. I’d like to see a woman elected to president during my lifetime and feel she is more than qualified to handle the job diplomatically. At this point, however, even my understanding of her career and political stances, I am left with disconcerting feelings even towards Clinton. I believe in the America she wants to create and believe she is certainly the more qualified candidate but I expected better resolve in her handling of Trump last night, but the gloves were off. There was no question of that.

I’m terrified what this election holds. Trump has threatened to jail his political opponent (a la der führer) all the while grabbing women by the pussy (I don’t care that it was eleven years ago, he hasn’t changed that much). Clinton has stooped to playing dirty. So we vote for an inexperienced prat with intent to reverse so many progressive rights or an individual who is a purported liar. I hope there will be a turn around between now and November 8. Although, at this point, I’m simply ready to get past November 8.