The general consensus is that Hillary won the first debate. She did look better than Donald, who looked a little haggard. On the substance, Hillary is supposed to be much better on policy, but I didn’t hear much real policy from her. Mainly I remember her saying to look at her website. She spent a lot of time down in the gutter with Donald, attacking him on paying income tax, on not paying his contractors, on declaring bankruptcy, etc. She would tax the wealthy more than he would, but in reality, no major tax revisions are going to make it through Congress without being extensively rewritten by lobbyists; so, it doesn’t make much difference what they espouse personally. She tried to scare the world into thinking that Donald will launch a nuclear attack against Russia, start World War III, and destroy the world. Donald is more unpredictable, but I don’t think he would do it. For a change it might be good for the rest of the world to worry about the US and tiptoe around us, instead of us worrying about the rest of the world. But the world would be a slightly more dangerous place. On the other hand, I worry that Hillary would drag us deeper in the Syrian war and the Middle East mess, possibly getting us into another unwinnable war, like Iraq and Afghanistan – throwing American lives and money down the drain. Hillary did not make the world a safer place while she was Secretary of State, but she didn’t start World War III either. She did what she had to do, went where she had to go, but with no particular vision or leadership. So, I would say the debate came down to a choice between a somewhat polished, tried and true “same-old, same-old”, or a rougher outsider espousing change. Faced with that choice, I am currently inclined to go with change, although it’s risky.
People are right, that America is great now, and we don’t have to make it great again. But we could make it better. I think that’s the problem for Hillary. She can keep America about as great as it is, but she has no plan to make it better. Trump would shake things up; they might get better, they might get worse. If you like the status quo, you’re for Hillary; if you’re not so happy with the status quo, Trump might be worth the risk. After the debate, Hillary is still the candidate of the status quo and Trump is still the candidate of change. Bernie Sanders was also a candidate of change, who showed that the Democratic Party is not uniformly happy with the status quo or with Hillary.
It’s ironic that change is so important after eight years of Obama, who ran as the candidate of change. I’m happy that Obama did not do anything radical, but that has made him more unpopular with his base. It’s strange that our first black President should be leaving while race riots led by blacks are brewing in several major cities. Hillary’s approach is to appease those protesting, while Trump’s is to impose stronger law and order. Hillary’s approach is problematic because she would need the cooperation of Congress, which would be very difficult, as with tax policy, but Donald could do much more to strengthen law and order by executive fiat.
The debate did not resolve any of these issues for me. Hillary was definitely more polished and more prepared, but Donald was together enough that I didn’t think he would start World War III. The beat goes on.