I’ve been catching up on last night’s US Presidential debate. My first impression is that both these candidates are dreadful failures of humanity. Neither should be allowed anywhere near the reins of power. My second impression is that Hilary Clinton seemed far better prepared, whilst Donald Trump appeared to be winging it.
Trump repeatedly failed to land punches on Clinton, who must have been relieved not to have faced any serious cross-examination. Attempts to bring up her reckless use of a private email server as Secretary of State, or the cash-for-access scandal currently engulfing the Clinton Foundation, were easily batted aside.
Meanwhile Clinton found it all too easy to paint Trump as an over-entitled spoiled brat with an attitude problem: taunting him over his business failures, a $14 million loan from his father, and his failure to release his tax returns.
Trump clearly doesn’t understand free trade or the division of labour. He believes that the Chinese are taking American jobs and using the US as a “piggy bank”. He would almost certainly trample all over the Constitution, as George W Bush did before him, in the name of national security.
Meanwhile, Clinton kept resorting to the tired old leftist line about “trickle down economics” – despite no self-respecting conservative actually having ever argued for handing over taxpayers money to the rich.
She appeared at one point to accuse the entire American people of “implicit” racism, urging Americans to ask themselves “why am I feeling this way”. This was a big win for Black Lives Matter, who in recent years have smashed up several American cities in the name of ‘racial justice’.
Trump’s rejection of fashionable political correctness is his greatest strength, but he didn’t press Clinton nearly hard enough on this.
Both of them were heavily tied into the ‘Birther’ smear against President Obama. Both tried extremely hard to blame it entirely on the other side. Trump pointed out Clinton officials attempts to acquire Obama’s birth certificate. Clinton accused Trump of “starting his political activity” based on “the racist lie that our first black President was not an American citizen”.
Watching the debate, I couldn’t help but remember the fictional showdown between Santos and Vinick on the West Wing. The real candidates pale into insignificance next to the fictional ones. Yet America must choose between them.
Trump is a bully and a demagogue, a joke candidate who isn’t funny any more, yet despite his poor showing last night he may be the lesser of two evils. Hilary would be in prison if she were not the champion of liberal establishment types, who can forgive any sin short of offending politically sensitive minorities. Both pose a significant threat to the American constitutional heritage of small government and individual liberty – well, what’s left of it, anyway.
Gary Johnson offers perhaps a faint ray of hope. But the odds stacked against him are astronomical. He didn’t make it into last night’s debate. Even with candidates as terrible as Trump and Clinton, the two-party system is ingrained into American politics.
Last night reminded more than anything of a particular episode of ‘The Simpsons’. Aliens have kidnapped and impersonated the two Presidential candidates in an attempt to enslave the Earth. The conspiracy is exposed, but the voters still feel they have to choose between Kang and Kodos.
“It’s a two party system. You have to vote for one of us.”
“Well, I believe I’ll vote for a third party candidate.”
“Go ahead. Throw your vote away.”
Chris believes strongly in individual freedom, personal responsibility, and the power of free markets to eliminate poverty by encouraging wealth creation. Follow him on Twitter: @cjmanby1989
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty