OPINION: Mark Meets World: More voices needed in presidential debates

Washburn Review writer Mark Feuerborn

Mark Feuerborn

The first presidential debate between Republican party nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, took place in the evening on Sep. 26 at Hofstra University, and tensions were high on both sides.

Clinton and Trump began with smiles and cordial introductions, but the debate quickly escalated to an intense slugfest. The two exchanged some heavy verbal punches, though one’s were much more truthful than the other. One of these two also came off quite arrogant, interrupting his opponent multiple times.

NPR delivered a fact-check of the two candidates words, complete with a full manuscript readout of the debate, greatly appreciated by this reader. Trump made several erroneous statements supporting his platform, and Clinton bagged him on his tax return and claim that climate change is a hoax. However, Clinton was tripped up on her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her email scandal.

Both candidates took some good shots at each other, though accuracy could have been better, particularly in Trump’s case.

Overall, however, the debate left this viewer feeling like something was missing. Perhaps it was the two other presidential candidates outside of the Republican and Democratic parties.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein was actually arrested outside Hofstra University following her press interviews, being denied entry to the debate for lacking credentials. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was nowhere to be found. Neither were able to reach the 15 percent national polling rate required to participate in the presidential debate.

While this policy is good in theory, it’s frustrating to see the traction these candidates gathered on social media, only to have them blocked from the same opportunity to make their case like their two opponents.

America has seen a disenfranchisement with the political system following Bernie Sanders’ departure from the race. Admit it: all around, at Washburn at least, we hear murmurs of disappointment on social media and in person regarding the two major candidates who were on the debate stage.

It showed in polling following the debate. CNN cast Clinton as the winner of the debate, with 62 percent on her side, 27 percent favoring Trump and 11 percent undecided. Oddly enough, CNN interviewed a focus group on how they felt after the debate, and the results were much less firmly segregated. A show of hands indicated only four or five people of an estimated 25 felt one of the candidates won their vote.

As it turns out, the CNN poll determining Clinton victorious only had 521 votes total. Internet polls from TIME and CNBC told different stories, with Trump winning by 10 percent and 34 percent respectively.

It’s frustrating to see Stein and Johnson blocked from the debates by a 15 percent national polling requirement while CNN is determining Clinton the winner of a debate with a poll of a meager 500 people. Here’s to hoping for their appearance on the next one.