The first presidential debate: What did we really see?

On Sept. 26, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in their first out of three debates. This debate which was hosted at Hofstra University in New York, was the most watched debate in history with more than 84 million people watching, according to ABC news.

With so many watching, one would think the candidates would have tried their best to appeal to the voters, especially the large population of young voters who are still on the fence about who to vote for. However, like this entire election cycle, there was little said about how they would change the United States for the better and more of “he-said she-said, he-did, she-did.” Where in many instances both candidates would highlight something positive about themselves and the other would refute with something negative they did or said.

It was interesting enough to see two of the most unpopular candidates in history debate with each other but it seemed more like a Jerry Springer episode than a debate. Where Lester Holt was Springer, while Clinton and Trump made a dysfunctional couple. Donald Trump maintained a bravado attitude throughout, even when he was denying that he had said demeaning things about women during his primary run.

However, it was surprising that Trump was able to maintain this bravado style throughout the debate because he did come under fire for a number of things, besides his comments about women, such as; his taxes, the birther issue, his business experience and his lack of political experience. How did he combat these attacks? Denial and pointing fingers at his opponent, Clinton. Hillary Clinton seemed to handle Trump’s finger pointing by throwing it back at him while attempting to fact check and contradict his statements. Clinton could be seen smiling and at times laughing, either at Trump himself or what he had said.

This happened while Trump was questioning Clinton about her deleted emails to which she laughed and responded with what seemed like a prepared statement. Aside from having been asked controversial questions, it was rare to see either candidate talk about the issues that face the United States such as; the economic issues, the social justice issues, the foreign policy issues and even global warming. Some things they did touch upon included job creation, fighting terrorism, national debt and taxes.

Even so, Trump and Clinton did not reveal anything new as to how they would change these things. Whether it was the media’s way of making Trump look unpresidential or it was a debate over controversy there could have been a better questioning protocol. Where instead of focusing on controversial issues the focus could have centered around the issues that face the nation, or at the very least, ensure that both candidate’s controversial actions are highlighted equally. Clinton should have been pressed more about her emails and the backing of the disastrous Iraq war, for example.

However, with so much controversy that inevitably surrounds both candidates, it is easy to tell that this first debate didn’t do much for voters. With the controversy that surrounds them, it’s hard for a person to determine who should be their next president. The answer as to who won or lost this debate does not stem from the candidates at all but rather the people of the United States. Have we won or have we lost?