The debate last night was a nightmare, but one I couldn’t look away from. Clinton’s vague plans and talking points, Trump stalking around the stage and not apologizing for telling his supporters to watch a sex tape both gave me headaches. On top of that NBC hired terrible moderators (look I don’t like Trump too, but you can’t keep cutting him off. And Martha Raddatz didn’t even attempt to remain unbiased.) It was a hot mess.
But one thing really disconcerted me about the debate last night: The things that both agreed on.
- Creating a Muslim militia: When asked about Islamophobia and combating domestic terrorism, both Trump and Clinton put forward a plan to gives incentives American Muslims for reporting suspicious activities among other believers. Red Scare anyone? I am extremely uncomfortable with both of our presidential candidates refusing to give real plans to combat domestic terrorism, instead relying on creating an environment of paranoia and fear among the Muslims in our country. I can see a future where good Muslims are constantly suspicious of their neighbors and false accusations are rampant.
- Arming rebel groups in Syria: Although they used different words to describe their plans, both Trump and Clinton advocated a policy of arming rebel groups in Syria to continue to fight Assad and ISIS. That should have ring a big warning bell for anyone familiar with United States foreign policy history. Arming rebel groups that our allied with us for the moment never works out.
- Increasing United States involvement in Syria: Different plans, same outcomes. Trump thinks we need boots on the ground in Syria, plus some other vague stuff. Clinton wants to keep the No-Fly zone in place and start aggressively counteracting Russian violations of the zone. These are different plans, but they both show the worrying strain of interventionism in this political season.
- Both don’t seem aware of ISIS’s plight: Watching the debate I was struck by the fact that both candidates did not acknowledge, or even seem aware of, the fact that ISIS is in fact losing the war. They have not gained any new territory since 2015 and have been pushed back on all fronts. The terrorist attacks that we are seeing are bad, but they are the sign of a last-ditch attempt to strike back, much like Nazi Germany and the V-2 rockets. It’s disconcerting that both candidates are using ISIS as a bogeyman without telling the American public the true story.
- Russophobia: While combating Islamic terrorism was on the foreground of the debate last night, another form of fear was lurking in the shadows: Russophobia. Both candidates expressed serious misgivings about Russia and advocated aggressive foreign policy against them. As much as Trump pivoted to ISIS (to defend his lewd comments, in an odd turn of events), Clinton was quick to deflect everything over the Russia. Everything. In the second half of the debate not a question passed without Clinton telling us how dangerous Russia is. Trump made periodically made jabs at Russia too. We are entering a new period of increased Russia/United States tensions, only this time nuclear weapons are involved.
- No real environmental plan: Once again, both candidates did not bring up the environment until the end of the debate when prompted to do so. There responses? Clinton: “I have great plan… alright moving on.” Trump: “Global warming isn’t real, why doesn’t anybody think of the poor oil companies?” Now I admit that Clinton is better off in this regard. At least she actually believes in climate change, but both candidates hesitancy to even speak about it is disconcerting.