October 14, 2016 by Ramsha Ahmad
Most of the general public tuned in to watch the second presidential debate the night of Oct. 9, whether they were hoping for entertainment or yearned for something more serious … maybe even wary of the upcoming election.
As a former hardcore Bernie Sanders supporter, it has been hard for me to grasp that the election has come down to two candidates who have had highly unfavorable ratings by the general public, based on their level of trustworthiness and transparency in the media. However, I can say with certainty that I will not be voting for Donald Trump.
Recently, Donald Trump has come under fire based on his misogynistic comments on an audit that was released to the general public where he engaged in sexist and highly offensive conversations that degraded women, saying how they “let him do whatever he wants because he’s a celebrity.” I expected his comments to disqualify him from the race, as former Republican endorsers of Trump condemned his comments, which he described as “locker talk,” when he “apologized” during the debate.
The debate, however, took its course and I could see that Trump supporters were still cheering him on as he threw immature counter punches at Hillary Clinton, mostly on the topic of her email scandal. Trump’s erratic behavior during the debate fared well with his supporters and stopped the bleeding among the Republican base. Worst of all, I saw no formal apology made by Trump in regards to his comments. Merely saying it was “locker talk” normalizes a culture that disrespects women and regards them as sexual objects. When referring to Bill Clinton’s history regarding the sexual assault claims made by women over the years, he said, “mine were words, his were actions.”
Actions begin with words and how we use them. His comments push sexual assault aside as something inevitable, something normal, something that can be justified. We cannot have a president who fails to understand that sexual assault stems from degrading comments rendering women as objects.
We need a president who does not merely say, “I respect woman very much,” when he clearly does not. We need a president who does not contradict his words with his actions of the past and the present. We need a president who redirects the debate to speak about real issues. We need a president who communicates with their running mate about foreign policy views. We need a president who will not perpetuate the cycle of hatred towards any race, ethnicity or religious group.
Trump responded to a question from a Muslim woman about how he would address rising Islamophobia with the most Islamophobic response, saying that Muslims had to “come in and report if they see hatred going on.” As an American-Muslim, I find it shocking that his behavior is deemed acceptable. His marginalization of Muslims is dangerous.
He says Muslims are the only people who have to say something if they see something when in reality, every member of the general public should follow this rule. He opposes taking in refugees, and clings to general assumptions that most are “rapists,” “drug dealers” or “terrorists” when this is the attitude that ISIS feeds into to create discord and further polarize groups against Islam. He easily declared that we know nothing about their love for this country, but America is a country that is founded on liberty. Where is the liberty in stripping people of their right to a safer life?
Clinton’s response was much more inclusive. More importantly, she declared that this country is founded on religious freedom. She proposes tougher vetting with the increase in Syrian refugees, but clearly stated that America is not at war with Islam as a people.
As the debate progressed, I saw more firing of the same ad-hominem attacks based on each candidate’s flaws; Trump with his failure to reveal his tax returns to the public, and Hillary with the email scandals. Yes, renewable energy sources, Obama Care and the important question of Supreme Court justice appointee’s were brought up, yet, Trump clung to personal attacks on Clinton’s character. He specifically announced that he would instruct the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for Clinton to put her on trial for the deleted emails that were unaccounted for. Threatening a fellow presidential candidate isn’t the best way to go, and I know for a fact that nothing of this nature has been said in a debate thus far.
Many of us may not favor the choice we have to make, but I cannot imagine a darker future than one with Donald Trump as our president. I cannot imagine foreign policy decisions, and effective negotiations made by a man who lacks the temperament, self-control and respect for minorities and women.