By Associate Editor Natalie Gates
On September 26, my prof let us out of class early so he could make it home to watch the first of the 2016 US Presidential Debates. I figured if he was willing to do that, then it might be worth tuning in to. It would play a part in determining our biggest ally’s future leader… right?
A strangely orange man with hair like that on a cob of corn entered. Greeting him with a handshake and a smirk on her face was a woman in a bright red pant suit.
I had heard hateful slurs and criticisms directed at both these candidates, but were they really as bad as everyone said?
Through my passive consumption of mainstream media, I suppose I too had developed views of each candidate, but could this debate change it all? My general internal consensus was that I was not a big fan of either. She was a typical flawed, yet qualified, politician who just happened to have a vagina (cool!). He was a rich, racist, misogynistic idiot. Clearly, she was my favourite, but perhaps this televised program would change my mind.
My first main thought as the debate began to ignite: Are these candidates secretly an old married couple?
Of course, I knew political debates contain a rather annoying, yet slightly entertaining, amount of interruptions (the Canadian tiffs leading up to last November were still painfully fresh in my memory). But it was the nature of his cutting-in that made my ears bleed sweet maple syrup.
As she fought to explain her views on things such as trade policy, deals with Iran, and (uh-oh) race issues, he delivered a steady stream of “nope, nope, no’s” and flung his own opinions onto the stage instead.
To my dismay, the “debate” suddenly turned to his temperament, which he screamed about for probably 10 minutes. At one point, he claimed, “She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina.” If this wasn’t the perfect picture of sexism, making a woman wait and wait to express her opinion, and degrading her with comments on her looks, I don’t know what is. I was sure she would screech, squabble, and break under the frustration to fight fire with fire, as many debaters often do.
But, when she finally caught an opening to speak, she simply blew an exasperated sigh of relief, another giant grin on her face. This near wordless response was probably her most effective of the night.
My second main thought: He was her biggest weapon.
The Guardian put it perfectly: “Politics is in flux in many democracies, America included. And both these candidates are already very well known. Neither has to introduce themselves to the voters. Most people have an opinion about both of them. Each is also already a very divisive figure, both to the other side and, to an unusual extent in this race, on their own side too.”
“Surprisingly,” my mind didn’t change at all. I’m sure many on the opposite end of the spectrum will also stick to their guns, no matter the nature of this and future debates to come.
But, hell, what do I know? I don’t get a say in it anyway.