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The 1st Presidential Debate: ESSA Writers React


ESSA Writers

By

September 27th, 2016


After a dramatic 90 minutes of debate, millions of people were left reacting to a memorable tussle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Some of ESSA’s Staff of Writers have their say below.


Andrew Wong:

Star Student vs Class Bully

At first glance, anyone with an interest in logical, realistic and coherent politics will say that Hillary Clinton has won round one of the Presidential Debates. Elegant as ever, Clinton, dressed in striking red looked the part. Clear and composed- tick; calm and decisive-check; well prepared and eloquent- double tick. Then again, this is Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former First Lady of the United States, Senator of New York and most recently Secretary of State under President Obama. Like the goody two shoes in the classroom, anything short of an A in the debate will be deemed a massive failure. On the other hand, her counterpart, the self-proclaimed ‘genius’ businessman Donald Trump was everything Clinton was not. While Clinton held herself back with grace and dignity as her opponent repeatedly attacked her on all fronts, Trump played his part as the obnoxious bully running for class captain perfectly.

The fact-checkers will be gleefully investigating his false claims, which any well-read person will know is hovering around the high twenties while viewers will be traumatised with the image of him bellowing ‘WRONG’ like a spoilt brat, the screenshot of his notoriously iconic and, dare I say, slap worthy pout ingrained in our minds. The debate was a battle between the teacher-backed star student and the popular rich ignorant rascal and honestly, it was boring.

Round one was excruciatingly predictable as I found myself more interested in pinpointing the exact moment Trump would interrupt Clinton or poor moderator Lester Holt, with his constant interjection of ‘WRONG’. Surely, the main aim of both candidates during the debate was to go against the media-formed perception of their respective political styles and reveal a different dimension of themselves to the undecided community. Clinton may have all the experience and firepower behind her, but she lacks the connection with the youth of the country that her earlier rival Bernie Sanders had.

Perhaps I was expecting too much if I thought the almost robot-like ‘clinical Clinton’ will transform into the empathising, relatable ‘humane Hillary’. Similarly, I waited eagerly for a collected statesman in Trump to magically appear before us and show that he does indeed have a real plan to Make America Great Again, however unlikely that may be. Sure, Clinton won this first debate as I assume most of us accepted even before a single word was uttered but there is a part of me that believes that the results of such debates are insignificant, especially when most of America has already made their minds on who to vote for. The only way to make a noteworthy mark was to challenge these premeditated assumptions and unfortunately, neither of them did that.

Nevertheless, it has been a year of the underdog with Leicester winning the Premier League mid-year and the Bulldogs making the AFL Grand Final. No matter what you think, Trump is an underdog, albeit a despicable one. If anyone was to land a knockout blow in the upcoming rounds, my money’s on Trump. After all, one must admit, he has done one heck of a job to come so far in a year.

Matthew Rao

Any notion that Donald Trump would pivot towards sanity when presented with a general election audience has surely evaporated after that debate.

From congratulating himself on the leading role he played in asserting that Barack Obama was not an American, to his description of a judge as a “very against police judge”, every syllable from the man confirmed what any sane person knew already: he should not be President.

However, it’s up to America, and the unfortunate fact is that millions of people would have relished Trump’s badgering and imbecility. The best result Clinton can hope for is a halt to his recent momentum.

We will find out whether this is the case in the coming days and weeks. But one thing is for certain, if the remaining two debates are anything like what we just saw, this is going to be an ordeal.

Yaz Naji

It’s unfortunate to see the debate turn out exactly how most people predicted. f you were to take a drink every time Trump claims he was misquoted or unfairly mistreated, and every time Clinton aims to reach those precious young Bernie Bros and fails by being just a tad too out of touch, you’d probably die of alcohol poisoning. As usual, it is very interesting to see two old, white candidates debate the struggle of being Mexican or Black in places like Chicago, something which I’m sure they both know intimately.

However, it was comforting to see Trump attempt, at least initially, to keep to the script and to see Clinton throw out a lot of policy ideas and criticisms. Ultimately, this debate will do nothing to change perceptions of each candidate, as America and the world gear up for another few months of the 24-hour news cycle regurgitating the same narratives with a new twist. Variety is the spice of life after all.

The views expressed within this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of the ESSA Committee or the Society's sponsors. Use of any content from this article should clearly attribute the work to the author and not to ESSA or its sponsors.

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