Donald Trumps Hillary?

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Just one more day, and we will know the next President of the United States. It has been a contested election, to say the least.

I watched the third and final presidential debate from a hotel in Michigan. Despite my strong disagreement on a wide variety of issues with Republican candidate Donald Trump, I must confess I was impressed by his style and arguments. Trump repeatedly questioned Hillary’s inefficiency, poor judgment and ‘insider trading’ behaviour with respect to deleted emails, the Clinton Foundation and denial of facts in the FBI investigation, which has subsequently been reopened. By invoking the support of women in response to each of Trump’s allegations, Hillary did not present herself any more trustworthy. To me, Hillary Clinton looked stale, repetitive and unimpressive in her demeanour and statements.

The media commentary right after the debate and the next morning declared Hillary the winner. For ‘purist’ believers of democracy, Trump’s statement that he “would answer on that day” whether the election results were acceptable to him was blasphemy. Professionals, pundits and celebrities concluded, in one voice almost, that Trump had lost it. Opinion polls, however, a few days later showed Trump in the lead in some states.

It is not difficult for a distant observer to understand why Trump and his campaign talk loud and clear about a ‘rigged election system’. There is no denying the fact that American democracy has been captured by big business interests and vocal elites. For ordinary folks in Michigan and elsewhere, democracy has not worked for them, as the economy stagnates, unemployment rises, crimes increase and infrastructure crumbles. To them, Trump represents a bold and frank voice, someone who is able to challenge the corruption of politics and elite capture of democracy.

Whatever the result on November 8, the presidential debate does provide Americans, and others around the world, an opportunity to compare the stands, personalities and styles of the two candidates. In that sense, the tradition of presidential debates, carried forward by a non-partisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates is highly educational. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas hosted the final debate and, as its President announced, more than a thousand students of the university and high schools in the district were actively associated with the organization and, more importantly, with conversations about the candidates and politics of democracy.

This is indeed practical citizenship education for youth, which our youth also needs.

 

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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