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The debates: a “Libertarian” perspective

At this stage in the election season, a ‘season’ that has lasted almost as long as a winter in Westeros, it is difficult for any original criticism, opinions or angles on the race to emerge. Other than the leak of some pages of The Donald’s tax returns a few days ago, nothing really interesting has happened since the post-RNC slump in Trump’s numbers and the following rebound. There have been ill-conceived jabs at the truly irrelevant movement that is the Alt-Right, Clinton’s stumble and Trump trying to appear like he wants to really be the Commander-in-Chief. Few events have been shocking or earth-shattering. Even in my experience polling people on the presidential race in July, I met accountants who predicted exactly what was going to be on the tax returns and how his write-offs work, but they did not take a stab at the size of them.

After such a slump in the entertainment, I was hoping that the first presidential debate would be interesting. I was hoping for a total and complete meltdown or Trump to come up with viable policy out of nowhere; I was hoping for Clinton to attack him with passion, regardless of the criticism of her from some due to her being a woman and all; I was hoping for Gary Johnson to show up; I wanted it to be pivotal. Instead, we were all given attitudes and attacks that were right in line with the political brands that we have come to know and dislike.

The attack on Trump’s attitude toward a former Miss America contestant was well dug-for, but I doubt its effectiveness since Trump has had no trouble in turning most women away already. Clinton did manage to get under his skin with her choice of calling him “Donald,” a name which lacks all the power and definitive sound of his last name, and clearly he is not a fan of that fact. Telling people to check her website for fact checking was an interesting choice, but other news organizations like Bloomberg were doing the same thing. It was a nice notion, though I doubt how really effective it was. Other than that and her very clearly rehearsed lines like “Trumped-Up Trickle-Down,” she did a decent job. I do not think she really needs to add in all of the acting in her reactions to Trump; she can allow him to pull all of the weight in that regard.

Trump’s remark about the emails was predictable, though it did seem to be a notable blow to Clinton judging by her and the crowd’s reaction. His reactions were far from perfect, and his references to individuals from long-time rivalries may no longer have the effect than they do when he is in more intimate settings at rallies and other events. They seemed incredibly out of place at the debate. What I did not understand is how on Trump’s website, like on Clinton’s, there are some policy proposals written out in detail. He has given a speech about his economic plan, and has explained views on foreign policy specifically. Yet, for some reason, they were never mentioned in order to rival Clinton’s proposals. He made statements similar to ones he has repeated at rallies for months, but never discussed whatever policies his campaign has laid out. If anything could win him more support or make him look more “presidential,” it would be bringing what plans he actually has to the forefront. Clinton has spared no chance to exploit this.

With regards to the vice presidential debate, it was even more predictable than the one for their running mates.

This article was supposed to be a Libertarian’s view on the debates. I do not identify myself as a Libertarian due to the ridiculous radicalism that makes up the majority of their party, a party that seems to be too obsessed with thought experiments and just being radical for the sake of radicalism. I did not dislike the reserved pragmatism that seemed to be what the Johnson/Weld ticket represented by their second town hall with CNN, but for obvious reasons, I cannot throw my faith behind them.

Personally, a sort of reserved pragmatism with a focus on institutional reform and a more realist view of foreign policy is what I would prefer, but that is not what I see in any of the candidates running this year, even from the primaries. Most candidates (emphasis on “most”) have (or had) at least one or two decent policy points, coupled with many that seem purely inflammatory for marketing and virtue signaling purposes. Real plans are mostly glossed over in speeches, as if getting down into the gritty details is something most voters cannot handle; that is, if the plans are detailed enough for this to be possible. Clinton has taken a few opportunities to do this, and I really wish other candidates did. When it comes to the debate, I was watching for the entertainment value, but I also anticipated some sort of smackdown with policy jargon and for somebody to make an eloquent and defining remark that would make me feel better about either candidate. I was hoping to see the best of both candidates (if that’s possible). There are more debates to come, so it may still happen.

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