By Luke Wathen
Well, it finally happened. The last presidential debate of 2016 occurred Wednesday night between two candidates who have made no secret of their distaste for one another. In my last election recap I made it a point to say that the last debate was marred with a horrible lack of civility between the two candidates, something that made the debate nigh impossible to watch.
The final debate, however, started on a more promising note. For 30 minutes, both candidates took the stage and presented their case as to why they should be elected and why their opponent was not the person suited for the burden of being the president. This window marked a return to the civility of debates past; there were no cheap jokes or insults, only polite disagreements.
This all changed, however, when Hillary Clinton brought up Russia and Vladimir Putin.
While both candidates are flawed in ways beyond measure, Donald Trump has the distinction among the two as being the most thin-skinned. From comments about the size of his hands to his perceived wealth, Trump feels the need to address every attack thrown at him, no matter how petty or irrelevant.
It was this insecurity that ultimately proved his undoing in the final debate. After 30 minutes, debate moderator Chris Wallace questioned Clinton about the content of her emails recently released by WikiLeaks and what she meant when she said she wanted “open borders.” After diverting the question with typical political non-answers, she brought up the Trump campaign’s supposed infatuation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This is where Trump made a fatal mistake. Rather than refuse to acknowledge the attack—which, to be fair, was completely off topic—Trump instead chose to charge Clinton head-on by claiming that Putin had no respect for her.
What followed was a series of name-calling that was reminiscent of a playground squabble. Both candidates took turns calling one another a “puppet” for their perceived lack of leadership skills.
What started off as an optimistic return to civility quickly devolved into the same overly partisan rhetoric that has plagued this election season since the beginning. Both candidates, though Clinton less so, focused more on attacking their opponent’s character rather than their positions. Even worse, they worried so much about attacking the other candidate that they failed to clarify their own positions.
With Election Day fast approaching and several states still up for grabs, Trump’s performance has all but sealed his doom. Trump and others touting the GOP banner are all but condemned to failure in the upcoming election.
It is truly a telling sign when Texas, a state which has not voted Democrat in a presidential election since 1976, is considered somewhat of a swing state, since Trump only has a four point lead. If he cannot pull such a historically red state, his chances of pulling a national plurality are slim.
Once again, I have to declare Hillary Clinton the winner of this debate. Though a tremendously flawed candidate, she remained dignified and stoic during the debate while, once again, Trump wallowed in his own childish narcissism. As a result, a second Clinton presidency is becoming more and more likely.