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Wednesday 09 November 2016

Averting the Trumpocalypse?

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 11th October 2016

Due to a lackluster performance at the first US presidential candidate debate (27 September 2016), Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is in poll trouble again. So, what was the debate like, and how are Trump and Clinton faring on LGBT issues?

While things started off with clear communication of their respective policies on equal pay for work of equal value (Clinton) and reduced company tax (Trump), Clinton soon gained the upper hand, depicting her as a middle class woman pitted against a scion of inherited wealth and privilege (Trump inherited one million dollars from his father). Trump questioned Clinton’s views on NAFTA and the Transpacific Trade Partnership, arguing that the ascendancy and management of Bernie Sanders resulted in an anti-TPTP platform to satisfy that constituency. She responded by pointing out that he had profiteered from the housing crisis through speculation and cut throat real estate deals, which he dismissed as ‘business’, apparently oblivious to the importance of housing issues to the general public.

From that point, Clinton assumed command and authority within the debate. She went on to raise his conspiracism on climate change denial, which he is on record as agreeing with, concluding that it was a “Chinese’-born conspiracy. He inadvertently complimented her on her adamant opposition to Daesh, and she had a rejoinder to him when it came to tax cuts for the affluent as a policy that has been tried and failed. Oddly enough, Clinton’s popularity increased when Trump spoke, indicating the audience was not receptive to his message. He acknowledged that he might lose the election (!) and joked about a real estate deal… which is no joke to anyone facing mortgage difficulties, foreclosure, auction and possible homelessness as a result. Black police shootings were met with assertions of ‘law and order’ (Trump) and comments about police and other forms of institutional racism (Clinton). She also talked freely about gun control, which may indicate how antagonistic mainstream US public opinion has become to the National Rifle Association and the rest of the pro-gun lobby. The pair then debated the effectiveness and offensiveness of ‘stop and frisk’ law enforcement tactics. According to the New York Police Department’s Assistant Commissioner for Communications, since the abolition of ‘stop and frisk’ in 2011, crime, murder and acts of violence have dropped in New York City, reaching an historic low in the first quarter of 2016.

Clinton was asked about her email security debacle and deflected the issue well. Oddly, Trump did not actively pursue it.

Clinton then launched a devastating attack on another Trump conspiracist platform, namely the absurd ‘birther’ nostrum that incumbent Democrat President Barack Obama was ‘born overseas’ and was therefore ‘not’ a US citizen. Trump visibly foundered on that one. When it came to foreign policy, she proved unstoppable, given her role as Secretary of State for Defence and the woman who was primarily responsible for the demise of Osama bin Laden, the principal architect of 9/11. She spoke with authority and knowledge on the need to combat ISIS, not demonise US Muslims and noted Trump’s professed admiration for Vladimir Putin. Trump responded that Clinton and Obama ‘mishandled’ Libya and that ISIS formed under their watch- which led to a lengthy debate about whether or not Trump supported or opposed the Iraq War under George W.Bush.

Clinton then asked about whether Trump could be entrusted with nuclear weapons, to which Trump made a weird response about financial compensation to the United States from countries that the United States “had helped out.’ Trump noted that he was unhappy about the Iran deal under the Obama administration, and so was a prominent US ally, Israel’s President Benjamin Netanyahu. Clinton asked what his alternative was, and as with her other questions about foreign policy, received no reply. On this issue, then, it may be the case that Clinton’s foreign policy experience enabled her to speak with gravity and authority. Finally, Clinton referred to Trump’s abhorrent sexist rhetoric, given that he had called female opponents ‘pigs, dogs and slobs’ in earlier political contests or public debates. At this, the debate concluded after one hour.

The consensus of the debate focus group at this point, shortly after the debate concluded, was that Clinton was in the ascendant, and controlling the debate, apart from three pro-Trump holdouts. The consensus appeared to be that Clinton had won the debate easily, going on the offensive numerous times, and letting Trump condemn himself out of his own cavernous mouth. LGBTI issues were not raised in the course of this debate and reportedly, Trump has shied away from a second such debacle, perhaps wisely. So, what do the two candidates believe on LGBTI concerns?

Donald Trump has already said that he will dispense with the US Supreme Court decision that allows marriage equality,Obergefelt v Hodges(2015). He also has fundamentalist, conservative Catholic and anti-abortion advisory committees consisting largely of "smorgasbord" Republican Catholics who rant and rave against abortion, marriage equality and transgender rights but seem strangely uninterested in church social teaching when it comes to the morality of war or a just economy and fundamentalist obsessives who similarly focus exclusively on abortion, homosexuality, sex education, censorship policy, assisted suicide and cannabis, to the exclusion of debate about economics, criminal justice, foreign policy and civil liberties. Unsurprisingly, Trump has now endorsed service provider discrimination against LGBTI clients, or, as the US Christian Right calls it, "religious liberty." This nostrum means that if some is 'religious' yet involved in a secular occupation, they will get to opt out of antidiscrimination laws and have special privileges. He also opposes school policies that would keep transgender children safe through assigning them to gender appropriate toilet and changing room facilities. Hillary Clinton supports marriage equality, the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to US federal antidiscrimination laws and safety for transgender children in the context of gender appropriate educational facilities. That may be why three quarters of US LGBTI voters back Clinton in the presidential race, joining Hispanic, African-American and female voter cohorts in the Democrat corner.
Clinton was prepared, confident and articulate. Her opponent needs to learn that cheap demagoguery, infantile personal denigration of others and the lack of elaborated public policy play right into her hands. One hopes, however, that he doesn't learn this core reason for his first debate loss until it is far too late to salvage his campaign. However, breaking news indicated that there might be an insurmountable barrier looming before that debate occurs on , as theNew York Timespublished a stark expose indicating that he hadn't paid federal taxes since 1995. Even right-wingFoxNewsmay finally be balking at this particular item, given that Hillary Clinton has been commendably transparent about hers. It'll be difficult to insert LGBT concerns into this presidential campaign unless it comes up in the next presidential debates.

The second candidates debate occurred at St. Louis, Missouri at Washington University (October 9). Things didn't change particularly much for the hapless Trump- in fact, one might say that they got worse. Clinton capitalised on Trump's aberrant views about women and his failure to file income tax returns for the last two decades, and she also undermined his advocacy of tax cuts, arguing that they only privilege affluent voters like her opponent. While her own email confidentiality problems came up momentarily, Clinton scored multiple hits against Trump, who had a convenient attack of historical amnesia when it came to his initial support for the Iraqi War. He ambiguously objected to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but then failed to present any meaningful alternative policy to the Democrat's health insurance format. Most significantly though, he inadvertantly disclosed what seemed to be a growing gulf between him and his own Vice Presidential appointee, Mike Pence, now actively mentioned as a replacement candidate for Trump to limit the damage that his candidacy may bring to his hapless, captive current political vehicle. There seem to be stark divisions over the Syrian civil war within the Republican camp. There is one final debate scheduled at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (October 19).

Perhaps we should count our blessings, given Trump's propensity for self-destruction. Can it get any worse for the Republican candidate? Hopefully. And given the revelation of lewd and vulgar misogynist comments about women as the candidates neared the second presidential nominees debate, many Republicans were visibly squirming at the antics of their candidate, wondering if this nightmare would end before November 2 and the official US federal election, and whether Trump could be persuaded to withdraw beforehand, although his running mate, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, has an actively anti-LGBT track record as Republican Governor of Indiana. And predictably, despite what must be growing awareness of the debacle that will engulf the Republican Party on November 2, US Christian Right subcultural luminaries like former Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Michael Cromartie (Ethics and Public Policy Centre), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Gary Bauer (Working for America's Families) and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition all insisted that Hillary Clinton's LGBT inclusiveness and pro-choice stance on abortion rights were what 'really' mattered. (Just not to the vast majority of mainstream US voters?). In early October, a miasma of negative perceptions swirled around the Republican candidate.

Trump Versus Clinton: How the Debate Unfolded:”Radio New Zealand News: 27.09.2016: world/314302/trump-vs-clinton- how-the-debate-unfolded
LGBT rights and Equality: Hillary Clinton: issues/lgbt-equality/

Joshua Eaton: "Where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Stand on LGBT Rights"Teen Vogue: 28.07.2016:http://www. clinton-donald-trump-lgbt- lgbtq-rights-2016-election

John Lapinski and Stephanie Phyllos: "Poll: LGBT Voters Support Clinton Over Trump"NBC News: 23.09.2016:http://www. poll-lgbt-voters-support- clinton-over-trump-n653491

Chad Griffin: "What a Trump Presidency would mean for LGBT Equality Across the Globe:"CNN News:01.09.2016:http://edition. trump-a-threat-to-lgbtq- equality-griffin/

Ryan Lizza: "Donald Trump's Taxes"New Yorker:02.10.2016:http://www. donald-trumps-taxes

Lauren Gambino et al: "Donald Trump defiant as groping tape drives growing Republican calls to quit"Guardian:08.10.2016:https://www. oct/08/donald-trump-tape-quit- republicans-lewd-comments

"Religious leaders stand behind Trump following vulgar comments"Newshub: 09.10.2016:http://www. leaders-stand-behind-trump- following-vulgar-comments- 2016100911

Luca Grindley: "Trump's Crisis raises scary alternative- Pence for President"Advocate:09.10.2016:http://www. 07/trumps-crisis-raises-scary- alternative-pence-president

Josephine Tovey and Nick O'Malley: "Second US presidential debate: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump trade off"Melbourne Age:10.10.2016:http://www.theage. second-us-presidential-debate- hillary-clinton-and-donald- trump-face-off-2016100 9-gryfcz.html

Craig Young - 11th October 2016

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