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Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and one overwhelmed moderator battled one step closer to the oval office Monday night. The first presidential debate was anything but tame, as both candidates fought to capture the attention of American voters. It was a no-holds-barred flurry of insults and platform deconstructions that, miraculously, went only 10 minutes over time. For those unwilling or unable to watch, both of which are understandable, here are the top four highlights of the first 2016 presidential debate.
- Where are the jobs and how do we bring them back?
This was near the beginning of the debate, so it was not yet the vicious battle that Clinton seemingly baited Trump into, but, as always, their tempers were beginning to rise. Clinton doubled down on her repeated and current stance on job creation. Focusing on small business and the support of the middle class, Clinton wishes to invest in the revitalization of infrastructure in America. She continued, stating that clean, renewable energy is a goal that we should strive for in the country. Trump doubled down, as well, on his well-worn belief that America must stop businesses from moving jobs and factories to Mexico and China. While defending this position, Trump said China is “using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China.” To incentivize businesses to remain in America, Trump stated that he will cut business taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent. Both of the candidates interrupted and fought throughout the night, but, despite their best efforts, they were able to clearly relay their stances on jobs in America.
- “Trumped up economics”
If there are two things that Republicans generally enjoy, it’s Ronald Regan and the free market. Trump consistently praised both in the debate, drawing fire from Clinton while discussing economic plans. During this discussion, Trump claimed that his economic plan would be the largest since Regan was in office, and he supported the statement by saying that he would cut taxes across the board. Clinton, who plans to implement a more rigorous taxation of the rich, stated that Trump’s plan favors the wealthy in the country, leaving the middle class to bear the weight of this Laissez-faire system. Calling these ideas “trumped up trickle-Down,” she declared that trickle-down economics did not and will not work. “The last thing we need to do is go back to the policies that failed us in the first place,” Clinton said. Trump’s rebuttal was not quite as strong, falling back on his previously stated remarks regarding companies leaving for Mexico. This was the tipping point of the debate and, from my view, it was not falling uphill.
- Clinton vs. Trump: Releasing Taxes
This was the moment in the night where Trump was visibly talked into a corner, and like any politician who is cornered, he came out swinging. Every Republican candidate since Richard Nixon has released their tax returns for the world to see, and, despite this, Trump has seemingly no intention of continuing this tradition. Lester Holt, the moderator, questioned Trump on the subject, saying that candidates release their returns based off the fact that voters should know to whom their representatives owe money. Trump rebutted, stating, “I don’t mind releasing — I’m under a routine audit. And it’ll be released. And as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released.” Now, this statement is incorrect for an important reason. Either Trump is lying, or he is simply unaware of the situation. He is free to release his taxes at any time, regardless of a federal audit. The IRS stated last Friday that nothing is preventing Trump from performing this action. Holt acknowledged this fact, stating to Trump that he is more than welcome to release the return if needed. It is unclear whether or not he completely disregarded Holt’s line of questioning based on apparent bravado or ignorance of the situation. Either way, after the returns were brought to light, things became undeniably interesting. Clinton responded to Trump by picking up where Holt left off, saying, and “We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you are under audit.” She then began examining potential reasons for hiding his returns. She speculated that he may not be paying federal taxes, citing an instance where Trump was forced to turn the returns over to procure a casino license. During this barrage of speculation and inquiries, Trump never once denied the fact that he was not paying federal taxes. In response to Clinton’s claim that he is not paying said taxes, Trump declared, “That makes me smart.”
- Race War
America has seen some extreme racial tensions in recent years. From the widespread distrust of police officers to the riots and unjust shootings, the people will need strong leadership come November. Clinton began this segment by announcing that race, unfortunately, determines much of a person’s life. She said that necessities such as education, homes, and how they are treated by the criminal justice system all falls back to race. Clinton moved forward, saying, “Everyone should be respected by the law and everyone should respect the law.” She continued, “We have to tackle the plague of gun violence.” Trump, then, claimed that there were two words that she did not want to use: “Law” and “order.” Possibly implying that the country should provide the police force with more authority, Trump continuously pushed this notion of law and order. Within this segment, he suggested that “stop and frisks,” could be instituted in cities such as Chicago, declaring that these measures worked very well in New York. “Worked very well” is clearly an opinion from Trump, as concrete data shows fairly unremarkable results from “stop and frisks”, and they were later declared unconstitutional because of their racial bias.
Trump steered the argument towards illegal immigration, stating that the country has to take the guns away from gangs. “In many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants,” he said. He repeated himself, saying that we have to keep guns away from people that “are bad and should not have them.” Clinton ended the segment by reaffirming her stance on creating stronger relationships between people and police and retraining officers to deal with bias.
Clinton won the debate by providing clear answers to most of the questions without much hesitation or stumbling. Yes, she did repeat many of her previously stated planks. However, this shows a consistency that many people have been concerned that Clinton could not sustain. She was seemingly more prepared than Trump, largely providing proper facts and statistics against his claims, many of which were found to be false.
This is an opinion, written from the perspective of the writer and does not reflect the views of Sidelines or MTSU.
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