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What impact do you hope the first presidential debate has on U.S. citizens voting in the election? – a Democrat’s perspective

By Alex Friedman

Section: Features

October 7, 2016

I hope that U.S. citizens will have the same experience I had watching the debate: A sudden shock of disbelief that the man at the podium has the potential to become the President of the United States. I hope that the American people felt a sudden lurch and drop in their stomach, such as what you would feel when about to jump off of a cliff, and that they will take a step back from the ledge.

I hope that the American people realized that the job of the President, and of lawmakers, is to run the government and to make laws—to know policy. That they realized that the job of the President is not to make you feel special or to rile you up. That the ability to say soundbites that feel right and mean nothing is a skill entirely divorced from the job of the President.

I hope that Secretary Clinton’s vast experience and “wonkiness” was apparent. I hope that Senator Clinton proved her willingness to accept when she is wrong and to defend what is right. I hope citizens remembered that every investigation into her integrity, be it White Water, Benghazi or her emails, always ends the same way: a Republican exonerating her.

The same cannot be said for her opponent. His fraudulent charity, his fraudulent university, his bribery of the Florida Attorney General. All unacceptable.

I hope that fact checking made clear the honesty gap between the two viable candidates. That it showed that every time he interrupted to say “wrong,” he himself was wrong. That it made clear she is one of the most honest candidates who ran for president this cycle, and that he is the least. Check PolitiFact. That it exposed that every point he made has been overruled by history or would destroy the future, be it weakening NATO, renegotiating the debt, playing coy with Russian aggression, shaming women, belittling people of color, insulting Hispanics or denying climate change.

I hope that the debate was helpful to those who proclaim in anguish, “This is the choice I have to make?!” That we will no longer extol those who claim to be “indifferent” or “unbiased,” assuming that because they believe very little, they are the ones to turn to for advice.

Social pressures to produce false equivalences in pursuit of appearing “objective” will have us seriously considering a bullet to a banana because the banana is bruised and the bullet is shiny. This path to self-destruction has, incredibly, been met with, “I know, but…” by everyday people. There is no legitimate qualifier here! There is no middle ground when the vote comes down to this!

I hope that the debate opened the eyes of those who still believe in the fallacy of the “protest vote.” That to vote for a third party, or not at all, is worthwhile. Hillary needs the youth vote to win, but the massive effect that they could have by voting as a bloc is being degraded by this pernicious myth.

While most people my age strongly prefer Hillary to her opponent, in a four-way race with the Green and Libertarian parties, her support drops to under half.

I hope the reality that neither third party candidate qualified to participate in the debate solidifies in the minds of the American people the real choice they have to make. That they either vote for Hillary, vote for her opponent or declare that they do not care who the president is.

This election is not about how you feel, nor is it about sending a message. It is about doing your part to bring the best option for our president to the White House. There is no other way for this country to be successful. It is both selfish and self-defeating to vote otherwise.

This is some of what I hoped would happen as a result of the debate. What do I believe will actually happen? A two-point jump in the polls for Hillary that will evaporate when she next dares to sneeze in public.

Please prove me wrong. Vote.

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