The second debate between White House contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, considered as one of the nastiest U.S. presidential debates in recent memory, reflects the decay of U.S. politics and a deeply divided society states ‘Xinhua’.
It states in an event that looks more like two hungry sharks trying to devour each other, the candidates relentlessly went on the attack in the 90-minute debate on Sunday night at the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Unlike the first debate on Sept. 26 in which both candidates carried out serious discussions on policy issues, “scandal,” “interruption” and “no handshake” seemed to become keywords of the second debate.
The face-off described by USA Today as “ugly” just shows that the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign has reached a new low.
Less than 48 hours before the second debate, tapes of Trump’s making sexist remarks about women more than a decade ago were released.
The tapes have caused shockwaves in U.S. society and outrage among Trump’s critics, as they included Trump’s remark that being famous allowed him to “kiss any woman,” and lewd words about women. Some Republicans even asked Trump to withdraw from the race.
Under widespread criticism and pressure, Trump apologized for his lewd remarks, while denying he had sexually assaulted any woman.
To shift focus on the tape scandal, Trump’s camp launched a pre-emptive strike — hosting a press conference with women who have accused former President Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband, of sexual assault or rape before the second debate was due to begin. The move set the tone of the debate to accuse each other.
Trump again criticized Clinton’s email scandal, in which Clinton used a personal email instead of a secure, government-issued one while conducting business as secretary of state. He even threatened to jail Clinton, which was deemed inappropriate in the United States.
Such debate that deviated from discussing serious policy matters aroused public disappointment.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson said on twitter: “23 minutes in, and we still have had no serious discussion about jobs, debt, or our security.”
DECAY OF U.S. POLITICS
In this year’s presidential campaign, both Clinton and Trump have invested more energy in the use of media, which on the one hand helped them contact voters, know public opinion and create their media images, but on the other hand helped increase political entertainment and vulgarization.
During the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, although social media became a battlefield, what the candidates said online still kept grace and rationality, with their tweets focusing on policy matters.
But this year, to gain support from online voters, Clinton and Trump have attacked each others’ temperament, characters and health conditions. Even until the televised debates at the sprinting stage, the presidential race still has not returned to the track of presenting campaign claims and policy ideas.
The energy of the U.S. politics is being consumed by some drama and entertainment and cannot be used to deal with core issues such as political reform, which has brought about great public dissatisfaction.
Nielsen data for 11 broadcast, cable and public television channels on Monday showed that some 66.5 million Americans watched the second debate on Sunday, well below the record 84 million that watched the first face-off two weeks ago.
Polls conducted by Pew Research Center in July showed that although 77 percent of the voters, a higher proportion than any election in the past two decades, call the 2016 race “interesting,” many voters consider it “too negative.”
About two-thirds say the tone of the campaign is too negative, while just 27 percent think it is not too negative, the polls said.
Many Clinton and Trump supporters describe their choice as a vote against the opposing candidate. For the first time since the 2000 election, fewer than half of both candidates’ supporters say they back their candidates strongly.
A Reuters/Ipsos 50-state survey gave Clinton a 95 percent chance of winning the election. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on Monday showed Clinton with an 11-point lead nationally over Trump.
But even if Clinton wins the election, she will face the challenge of governing a deeply divided nation, which features a great gap between the rich and the poor, racial conflict, impacts of immigrants and frictions among multiple values.
It is time for the U.S. politics to have self-reflection to get back to the normal track and deal with those phenomena of inequality.