After two heated debates, presidential candidates Secretary Hillary Clinton and Mr. Donald Trump entered the third and final debate of the 2016 election on Wednesday, October 19. The previous debates were dominated, beginning to end, by bigotry and a lack of topical discussion. The third debate began hopefully by comparison, but it did not take long for the debate to deteriorate into another juvenile feud.
For the first twenty minutes of Wednesday’s debate, Trump and Clinton remained at peace, taking turns answering moderator Chris Wallace’s questions in a collected fashion. However, passion escalated quickly with the discussion of the candidates’ viewpoints on abortion.
From there, the steady decrease of civil conversation lessened the validity of each candidates’ words. The most shocking component about the debate was Trump’s relative restraint.*
Trump may have kept his cool when Clinton could not, but that does not mean he didn’t supply the audience with his fair share of outrageous comments. On the topic of Mexican immigrants and the War on Drugs, Trump stated, “We have some bad hombres here,” referring to immigrants involved in the distribution of heroin.
Name calling once again had its place in the debate, with Trump calling Clinton “such a nasty woman,” and Clinton retorting with emotionally driven remarks. The diminishing credibility of these candidates made yet another debate disappointing and ultimately pointless.
The belligerency of the candidates during the debate forced Wallace to fight hard for order. During one of the debate’s more frenzied moments (Trump and Clinton both shouting over one another), Wallace shouted out, almost inaudible, “I am not a potted plant.” His expression of displeasure was completely overlooked as the candidates continued their bickering.
The presidential debates are designed to aid voters in making their final decisions, and it is unfortunate that this election’s debates have not. Once again, Trump and Clinton let their emotions and egos lead the conversation, the two acting like rival bullies on the playground rather than the presidential candidates they are.
The competition between the two candidates grew strong over the course of the debates. Instead of leaving voters feeling positive about their soon-to-be cast ballots, we were left watching a debate with no resolution; the two candidates exited with no hand shake, and no words.
It is nearly impossible to picture people as irrational as either candidate sitting in the White House, but the terrifying reality is that, ultimately, one of them will be. After three debates, the consensus is the same as it was before: the mass of American voters have little confidence in America’s current political situation.
These debates are certain to go down as among the worse, if not the worst, presidential debates in history. They displayed how our candidates act under pressure, and how unfit they are to negotiate.
The central issue with these debates surrounds the moderators. The candidates do not necessarily need to get along with one another, but when both Clinton and Trump show an almost complete lack of respect for the moderators, they express their lack of respect for authority. Even as President of the United States, humility is an essential attribute, and currently the candidates have little to none.
Before the debates, we could only judge the candidates based on what the media chose to show us. But now that we have seen in-depth “discussions” between the two, we have all the more reason to be discouraged.
No matter who you decided to vote for, whether you are encouraged by them or voting for the lesser of two evils, the confidence behind those votes will most likely be much more clouded now that debate season has ended.
*Fact Check: By the end of the evening, Trump had interrupted Clinton 37 times, which is fewer interruptions than at the first debate, when he interrupted Clinton 51 times. By comparison, Clinton interrupted Trump 9 times at the third debate.