Presidential Debate Round 3

Tonight, presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will meet at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to make their cases to undecided American voters one final time. Joining the two will be Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, the moderator of the third and ultimate presidential debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton is walking into this debate with the wind at her back. Polls conducted just a day before the debate show Clinton with a six and a half-point lead in national polls as well as a comfortable advantage over Trump in 15 battleground states-– if the election were to be held today, Clinton would win 304 electoral votes of the 270 necessary compared to Trump’s 138. There’s speculation that the Clinton Campaign might even decide to go in for the kill and expand their efforts in red states such as Alaska, Utah, Arizona, and Georgia, to defeat Trump in a complete landslide. This would help fellow Democrats in down ballot races and ensure that the American voters completely repudiate Trump and his rhetoric.

Clinton’s nationwide lead has led FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver to raise her probability of winning come November 8 from 83% in their polls-only forecast and 80% in their polls-plus forecast last week to an astounding 88% and 85%, respectively, going into the debate. Though a Clinton victory is obviously still not a given at this point– a lot can change in the span of three weeks–, she has a couple different routes to secure 270 electoral votes while Trump has significantly fewer. 2300-15statepoll1018

Clinton isn’t necessarily out of the woods just yet, however. Clinton faces more and more leaks of confidential emails from her campaign, with the latest batch of emails being released by WikiLeaks just yesterday. While most of the emails were nothing remarkable, there were a few remarkable emails which stood out aside from her extensive list for potential VP picks. One particular correspondence between Clinton’s Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy and an FBI official used the term “quid pro quo” to describe a potential deal between the State Department and the FBI which would allow the FBI access to countries they weren’t permitted to go to in exchange for loosening up classification decisions on documents. Though some see this as proof that the State Department was in cahoots with the FBI to get Hillary off the hook for her mishandling of classified information during her tenure as Secretary of State, the evidence is inconclusive as of now.

The Clinton campaign can expect some momentary relief from the constant drip drip dripping of leaked confidential information however, as the Ecuadorian embassy in London— current home of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange– recently decided to restrict his access to the internet. The WikiLeaks organization claimed that Secretary of State John Kerry allegedly asked the Ecuadorian government to stop him from publishing any more documents about Clinton, though the State Department and Ecuadorian government have denied this.

As bad as the woes of the Clinton campaign might seem, Donald Trump’s campaign is arguably doing abysmally worse. In the ten days since the second presidential debate, the situation has only grown bleaker and bleaker for the Trump campaign. Donald Trump has been hit with a slew of sexual misconduct allegations by a rising number of women following the leak of a lewd taped conversation between Trump and Billy Bush a few weeks ago. But rather than changing his behavior to improve his tumbling poll numbers in crucial battleground states, Trump has buckled himself down and has continued to reiterate that the allegations against him are false and that these women are liars. At a Greensboro, North Carolina rally last Friday, Trump even insinuated that one particular accuser, Jessica Leeds, was too unattractive for him to grope.

Yeah. I’m gonna go after – believe me — she would not be my first choice. That I can tell you. Man. We don’t know. That would not be my first choice.

Much like his businesses do with labor, Donald Trump’s campaign has been offshoring the blame for his not good, very bad performance in the home stretch of this election season on everyone, including Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the women accusing him of sexual assault, the liberal media, Saturday Night Live, and most importantly, Hillary Clinton, who is clearly the mastermind behind Trump’s various sexual misconducts and degrading comments. Trump speculates that Clinton has also gained an unfair advantage during the past debates by using performance-enhancing drugs beforehand to “pump her up” and has called for pre-debate drug testing. As if that wasn’t enough, Trump has explained his faltering poll numbers as a result of the “rigged” election system meant to keep him from becoming president.

This isn’t the first time Donald Trump has complained that the system is “rigged”. Following Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama in 2012, he took to Twitter to rant about the results, calling the election a “total sham and travesty”.

Donald Trump also whined about the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Emmy Awards after his show The Apprentice failed to win any awards.
trump-2012-emmys

trump-2013-2014-emmys

More recently, Trump said the same thing during the Republican primary. Back in May of 2016, he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the GOP is a “rigged party” and that the GOP establishment was trying to sabotage his campaign and prevent him from becoming the nominee. Trump later bemoaned the Republican National Convention rules as “rigged” and “crooked”. Yet despite all these perceived hurdles purposefully put in his way to stop him, Trump handily defeated a whole host of sixteen other people in order to win the party’s nomination– many of them political insiders and GOP poster boys such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Though some Republicans attempted to prevent Trump’s nomination, most stood behind him either proudly or reluctantly when it became clear that the people wanted Donald Trump. He was handed the nomination during the 2016 Republican National Convention in July more or less uncontested and has benefited from the help of many top Republican surrogates ever since.

Rigging a national election at the systemic level would be a near impossible feat, a conspiracy that would require the complacency and cooperation of thousands of election officials in precincts throughout the country. This would be an especially arduous task since elections are ran by state and local governments rather than the federal one. As a result of massive gerrymandering and other voter disenfranchisement efforts, Republicans control 70 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers and also benefit from having a trifecta (control of governorship, state senate, and house) in 23 states. A conspiracy to deny Trump his rightfully-earned presidency would mean that thousands of Republican governors, state legislators, and poll workers are actively trying to undermine their own party’s candidate, a highly unlikely scenario.

Though Trump’s claims that the election is rigged against him have been denounced by much of the news media as well as many prominent Republicans such as Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan as completely unfounded, forty one percent of voters surveyed for a Politico/Morning Consult poll agreed that the election would be “stolen” from him due to “widespread voter fraud”. This includes nearly three quarters of Republican voters who expressed concerns of this happening compared to 17 percent of Democrat voters.

This rhetoric being used by Donald Trump is dangerous. By no means is our system a perfect one, but to denounce it as being “rigged” undermines the democracy upon which our country is founded upon and discredits the integrity of our entire political process. What gives the government any legitimacy if it attained power in a corrupt and unjust way?

A good portion of his fervent supporters will not accept anything less than a Trump victory and Trump himself is unlikely to admit defeat, paving the way for tension and potentially even violence following the election results. These people are already fed up with the perceived and real injustices committed against them by the Washington establishment– believing that the Powers That Be tipped the scale against them in the election would simply send them over the top.

Regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely that Donald Trump will vanish from the public eye following the election. He will drag his knuckles on the ground long after the last vote has been cast, refusing to accept the reality that he lost. The Emperor God won’t simply disappoint his hordes of devoted supporters, however. Some have speculated that Trump was simply using his bid for the White House as a launchpad for an alt-right news media empire that would make Fox News look like Democracy Now!. According to the New York Times, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner recently met with Aryeh B. Bourkoff, a veteran media investment banker with the LionTree, to discuss the possibility of such an opportunity. LionTree has declined to comment on the meeting. Trump allegiance with his campaign CEO Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of right-wing news aggregator Breitbart, has added further fuel to the fire of these speculations. Even if broadcasting networks refuse to carry Trump TV, they could easily run a web-based media and publication site with increased autonomy and decreased restrictions.

If Trump thinks he can somehow undo the damage he has continuously caused to his own campaign since it first started with under three weeks before Election Day, then he is sadly mistaken. He simply has too much ground to cover and lacks the temperament to concentrate on the road ahead. I don’t expect Trump to capitalize on tonight’s debate in the slightest and will probably once again get bogged down trying to defend his pompous ego rather than focus on the substantive issues which voters really care about. Trump will continue to degrade the women accusing him of sexual assault and continue making petty excuses for his intolerable behavior, further alienating women and anyone else who might have considered voting for him at one point. The Trump campaign implosion will likely continue tonight and effectively end any hopes– or fears– of a Trump presidency, though many of his more ardent supporters will likely stick with him to the very end. The question is how far are these supporters willing to go for their candidate?

It’s Hillary Clinton’s election to lose and Donald Trump is gladly handing it to her on a golden platter. Yet as much as we all wish it was over, the madness unlikely to fully end on Election Day, so we advise our readers to strap themselves in– it’s going to be a wild remainder of the year.

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