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Here’s Why Nobody Really ‘Won’ the Presidential Debate

September 27, 2016, 2:53 PM UTC

The first televised debate between the two candidates has come and gone, and the loser was the American people.

By all accounts, Clinton was the clear winner of the contest, though Trump fans certainly found plenty to cheer about. But all the time in front of the mirror practicing the right amount of smiling clearly paid off for the democratic candidate. Despite being interrupted 51 times, Clinton seemed calm, prepared and was able to bring out some nuanced ideas in between parrying about unreleased tax returns and deleted emails.

Unfortunately, those ideas went largely undiscussed. On the topic of race, Trump used his time to conjure up old stereotypes of black and brown people living in “hell” in the “inner cities,” declaring himself to be a “law and order” candidate, advocating for the return of stop and frisk, a policing tactic that was not only profoundly unpopular with communities of color, it was ruled unconstitutional. It also didn’t work. He didn’t offer much else.

By contrast, Clinton did an admirable job advocating for communities of color, highlighting their vibrancy while addressing the barriers that continues to dog their progress. One example:

“Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses and it’s just a fact that if you are a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated. So we’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system.”

While Trump’s tough bluster sounds like common sense, particularly for voters who are frightened by protests and violence, it’s mostly nonsense. Though the murder rate and violent crime did tick up somewhat in 2015 – only in certain communities – crime overall remains near record lows. There is a lot of good news out there, and a lot to build on.

But nothing got built last night, not even a wall. And by not digging in more deeply to the proposed remedies for the problems communities of color are facing – education, safety, police and criminal justice and jobs – we were left with nothing to discuss but Hillary’s presidential “look” and Donald’s sniffles.


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On Point

Factchecking the candidatesIf you’re really committed to rehashing the debate today at work, then this line-by-line piece from a team at NPR will come in handy. Their education and policing citations are particularly helpful if you want to understand the broader picture of how race and policy intersect.NPR

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We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others.
—Bryan Stevenson