Who was the winner of the first presidential debate?
September 26th, 2016
The September 26th debate at Hofstra University was the first time we were able to see presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hash it out on stage, and hash it out they did.
The first thirty minutes set the tone. It was going to be utter chaos. The only rules to the debate were that there were not going to be any rules. Time limits were nonexistent, interruptions were plentiful, and the moderator did no moderating. The manners every single one of us learned in kindergarten were thrown out the window by the two people we chose to have a shot at America's highest office. Still, it gave us flashes of brilliance and a few memorable moments that might define the presidential race from this point forward.
Who won the first presidential debate?
Lifetime politician Hillary Clinton showed her poise and experience. Political outsider and businessman Donald Trump displayed what his supporters admired the most about him: being anti-establishment. Trump was so anti-establishment that he almost clearly winged it the entire debate. It's one thing not to prepare for a midterm exam, it's another to not prepare for a presidential debate. And you know what? It didn't hurt Trump at all. It is the narrative of this election, and it seems like it will continue to be the narrative.
Hillary Clinton is America's best example of a politician who has worked tirelessly to reach America's highest office. While some view her as untrustworthy and shady, she took the "right" approach to running for president. Where she lacks charisma, she has experience. Where her jokes fall flat, her detailed policies shine.
However, being an established politician also means you come with a pretty detailed track record. Where Trump himself has a trail of messy Tweets and old interviews that can be damaging, the former First Lady and Secretary of State has endless records of every stance she's ever held and every action she's ever taken. Ever. Mrs. Clinton will never lose the nickname "Crooked Hillary," and perhaps it is that nickname that shows how Trump and anti-establishment voters have repeatedly thwarted Clinton's road to the presidency. We saw it with Sanders' astonishing success with his cries for political revolution. Both sides are sick of the establishment, and Hillary Clinton is the establishment personified.
On the other hand, Trump isn't a politician. He lacks tact. His ego is dangerous, and his diehard followers burst into applause at every mention of "make America great again." He keeps his ideas and plans blunt and simple, and some would say it's because he has none. He lies and bends the truth endlessly, even when the truth stares him in the face, Trump will deny it. He was fact-checked mid-debate last night by moderator Lester Holt about stop-and-frisk being ruled unconstitutional, and Trump actually answered him by saying "no, it's not."
The truth is, Trump's supporters don't need the truth. They don't need complex policies or even simple ideas. They need change. A Hillary presidency all but guarantees that America will continue down its current path, while a Trump presidency promises revolution. Some people think America's headed in the right direction, some don't. That's just how politics works, and clearly Trump has a message that resonates with many Americans. His supporters are tired of the establishment, tired of Hillary Clinton, and regardless of whether or not there is substance behind Trump's message, crowds upon crowds of Trump's deplorables will raucously support him. Nothing can or will hurt Trump from this point forward, as has already been shown time and time again.
This unwavering support was on full display following the debate last night. Throughout the night, online poll after online poll put The Donald trumping Clinton in almost every major publication. While there was evidence of significant voter spam from diehard Trump supporter havens like 4chan and Reddit's r/thedonald, the numbers were still alarming for Clinton hopefuls. Despite what many political analysts considered to be an easy and tidy win for Secretary Clinton, the people spoke otherwise.
Of course, online polls are relatively unreliable, especially those that have been prone to being "raided," as 4chan users call it. After all, their votes were enough to put Kim Jong-Un as Time's person of the year, suggest Mountain Dew's newest flavor name be"Hitler did nothing wrong," and name a baby gorilla Harambe McHarambeFace.
With just over a month to go before election day, the national polls are neck-and-neck, and this is certainly turning out to be one of America's most exciting presidential races in history.