These past two presidential debates have been interesting to say the least. For the most part many would agree to at least some extent that Hillary has been winning the debates, but I would hesitate to even call what has been happening over the past three weeks debating. During the debates, the majority of the time is spent with the two candidates arguing back and forth over issues that I personally would consider irrelevant at this point, such as Hillary’s emails and Donald’s tax paying practices. For me these personal issues are not important at this point due to the fact that a decision has already been made about Hillary’s emails and Donald is probably never going to release his taxes.
It is clear from these debates that the main focuses of discussion are not on policy but rather this tit for tat between the two candidates. In playing into this pattern it is easy to see how many refer to this election as one that is the choice of the lesser of two evils. From Trump’s perspective it is easy to understand why he would try to deviate the conversation from one of policy to another of personal integrity. Trump does not have a strong background in policy as he recently added politician to his resume. Therefore, Trump is playing to his strengths, and what ultimately made him the republican nominee, his candor and opinionated commentary about his opponents and others. As a result, I am not surprised at his behavior and lack of focus on actual politics during debates. However, Hillary, unfortunately, has fallen pawn to his ploy of cat and mouse.
The animosity of the first debate, although, disappointing, was anticipated as it was the first time the two candidates had the opportunity to face off in front of each other. The second debate, however, was uncalled for. I expected that the first debate would be used as way for each candidate to defend themselves against the other’s criticisms, but I had hoped that the second would actually be geared toward the policies and issues at hand. The fact that this is not what happened was particularly disheartening as the setup of the debate was a town hall. In my view, presidential debates are particularly useful in helping undecided voters determine who they will vote for. However, when the presidential debate consists of the candidates simply discussing private matters that have been covered by the media for numerous months, the debate loses its purpose.
Although Hillary tried to keep on task with policy during the debates, she still continues to fall into Trump’s trap, which is only human nature, to defend yourself. This act is interesting as Hillary, unlike Trump, does have an extensive background in politics and policy specifically, therefore she would ultimately be playing to her strengths rather than his. But political affiliation aside, it is simply put, unfortunate, that the debates are not necessarily aiding in helping undecided voters make a choice about who to vote for, but rather solidifying the opinions of the Clinton and Trump supporters. Moreover, I think that due to the realization that those who support Trump and those who support Clinton are not likely to switch their positions, the push for policy during debates falls on the back burner. Lastly, these debates have not necessarily helped anyone as the opinions of voters have seldom changed as a result of them. I hope that the final debate is more productive, in that there is a larger focus on the issues at hand and policy rather than choices of the past.