As the election season draws to a close, stakes are undoubtedly rising to seemingly unmanageable heights in the 2016 race for Presidency, reaching their highest peak yet in the last presidential debate on October 19th.
Chris Wallace, the first Fox news reporter to mediate a presidential debate, started off the debate with what some say is the “central issue of this election” — the Supreme Court nominee. Each candidate maintains that the new nominee, whoever it may be, should take a strong stance on the issue of abortion and the second amendment. Clinton stresses that “it is important that we not reverse marriage equality…[or] Roe v. Wade,” which is a court case in the 1970s that ruled abortion legal. In Clinton’s opinion, the current Senate has been acting dishonorably by not giving Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee who is pro-choice, due consideration. “The President appoints and the senate advises and consents…or not,” she says. “But they go forward with the process.” However, Trump, who is pro-life, contrasts her opinion through his firm belief that abortion laws should “go back to the states.” He also argues that gun laws should be more lax since it is a constitutional right to bear arms. As a means of exemplifying the severe impact just a single person on the Supreme Court can have, and therefore highlighting the importance of the nominee, Trump commended Justice Antonin Scalia’s historical ruling on the Heller case, which ruled against stricter gun laws, as a “well-crafted decision.” In response, Clinton asserted that there are ways to protect children from the dangers that guns pose “that are not in any way conflicting with the second amendment.” Working towards developing laws that would give the American people freedom and safety is, in Clinton’s opinion, what the new nominee should be doing, instead of just blindly supporting the NRA like Trump. Additionally, Hillary swears that she will protect the rights of pregnant women, declaring, “I don’t think the United States government should be stepping in and making these most personal decisions” for women. Yet, Wallace followed up her sentiment with an inquiry into how late she deems it acceptable for an abortion to be performed. When she confirmed she supported abortion practically up till the day of birth, Trump accused that she would “rip the baby from the womb…in the ninth month and on the last day. That’s unacceptable.” His assertive diction notably shook the crowd.
Next, Wallace moved on to the issue that “separates the two” candidates most: immigration. Trump made his usual case that “children have been brutally killed by people who have come in illegally to the country” and “drugs are pouring into the border.” Living up to his reputation, he pushed for “strong borders,” claiming “we’re getting the drugs— they’re getting the cash.” In order to make the relationship the US has with Mexico fair and economically balanced, he argues that we must renegotiate trade agreements such as NAFTA as well as take the first step by cleaning up the problem of illegal immigration. He even went as far as to speak Spanish, concluding that “we have some bad hombres here.” In response, Hillary gave a deeply moving anecdote about a young girl named Carla, the child of an immigrant living in Las Vegas, who is terrified of having her parents taken away from her. She rebuked Donald Trump’s rash and insensitive plan as “an idea that is not in keeping with who we are as a country,” claiming that the United States is and always has been a “nation of immigrants and a nation of laws and we can act accordingly.” She then proposed comprehensive immigration reform within the first hundred days. “I want to get everybody out of the shadows, get everybody working,” she said. Trump responded claiming that, though they deny it, even the democrats know that something drastic needs to be done about the illegal immigrant problem. As proof, he revealed that
“under Obama, millions of people have been moved out of this country” and as a Senator, Clinton voted for a plan similar to Trump’s, which also consisted of a wall.
Most interestingly, Wallace ventured to ask questions that threw both candidates, but were on the minds of nearly every American in the audience, no doubt; to Trump, the credibility behind the allegations of multiple women against him and for Hillary, the questionable role she had in dealing with those who spoke out against her husband for sexual misconduct. Trump addressed the allegations by maintaining that their stories are “largely debunked,” and that he did not even apologize to his wife because he honestly did not touch those women. Instead, he suspects that Clinton and Obama “hired people” to not only testify against him but to “start fist fights and start violence” at his rallies, particularly the one in Chicago. On her end, Hillary merely deflected the question, beginning to talk about Trump’s worrisome relationship with Putin. She states that “the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans” through the hacks of countless emails and websites of American businesses and individuals. As per her own email scandal, she says that 17 intelligence agencies confirmed that the “highest levels of the Russian government” revealed information to WikiLeaks “designed to influence our country’s election.” Amazingly, her little speech neglected to mention that the email content exposed revealed that she wants open borders and free trade, both of which are contradictory to her current platform, which Trump points out. Lashing out, Clinton proceeded to call Trump a “puppet” for Putin, at which Trump childishly snapped back that she’s the puppet. More composed, he went on to reason that it was better to charm Putin than reduce him to a state where “he has no respect for her [Clinton]… [or] our president.”
The debate closed with the question that has been asked nearly every presidential debate since the debates have started: does the losing candidate plan to support and respect the winner? This is important because it exhibits a love and respect for the system of democracy in which our entire nation is based around. Without a mutual deference to the democratic system, despite bipartisan differences, no American would truly belong to the political culture that unites us. Someone who cannot understand the importance of this has debatable authority to be president. Therefore, concerns were first brought up after Trump began to claim that the system was rigged. At first, Clinton brushed it off as a joke, saying “whenever something for Trump goes wrong, he claims it’s rigged.” However, his previous accusation about rigging became much more serious when he responded to the aforementioned question above, “I will make a decision at the time, and, in the meantime, I will keep you in suspense.” Perhaps Trump did not understand the magnitude of his statement, but it will undoubtedly be the line to stick with and haunt people for the next three weeks to come.