By Arlen Grossman
It is not too far-fetched to say the first presidential debate of 2016 changed the course of history.
Donald Trump was breathing down the neck of Hillary Clinton in the polls, and appeared to be picking up momentum. If he had held his own in that first debate, it is conceivable the reality show TV star and shady business mogul could well have been elected President of the United States, the consequences of which would surely have negatively changed the course of history.
But with Hillary Clinton’s skills and preparation, in stark comparison to Donald Trump’s immaturity and ineptness that Monday night, more than 80 million Americans were able to see what they should have been able to see all along. It was obvious to most debate viewers that one of the two candidates was unprepared, uncontrollable, bigoted and dangerous. There was little doubt that Hillary Clinton was the winner of that critical faceoff.
Hillary Clinton’ s experience, knowledge and mastery of the issues were on display to the American voters. Not at all a flawless candidate, she was nonetheless a far more serious and dependable choice for the world’s most important job, especially compared to her bumbling opponent.
If Trump’s pre-debate momentum had carried him to victory, the consequences would have been far-reaching and scary to contemplate. For a start, his Supreme Court nominations would have bolstered a right-wing Supreme Court. The rest of the world would be on edge contemplating his uncertain foreign policy. Every person of color in our nation would worry where they stood. Most likely our nation’s and the world’s economy would have been sent into a tailspin. The consequences of having someone as unqualified and immature as Donald Trump as leader of the free world are terrifying to contemplate.
Fortunately, the polling after the debate indicates the American people were paying attention. Clinton’s numbers have risen–albeit not a lot– so that it is hard to foresee how she should not be the winner on November 8. Compared side to side with his opponent, Donald Trump came off the clear loser, an incompetent narcissist incapable of carrying out the critical responsibility of being leader of the free world.
For many Americans, the thought of a President Donald Trump is a horrifying one. They can envision him taking away health care for millions, ballooning the debt with tax breaks for his wealthy peers, turning Americans against each other, and crashing the stock market. Even more frightening is the thought of his finger anywhere near the nuclear launch button. It all could have happened if he had held his own at that heavily watched debate. He is most likely incapable of doing any better at subsequent debates.
September 26, 2016 may not go down in history books as the day a nightmarish tragedy was averted, but there is a strong case to be made that it was. We came far too close to the precipice, but thankfully it appears we backed away in time. The far better of the two candidates appears to be within reach of victory in November, and American voters appear on the verge of electing the first female president in this country’s 240-year history.
And all because Donald Trump revealed his true self to a national audience.