Following another ridiculous news cycle in which Donald Trump joked about assassinating Hillary Clinton, the time has come for Hillary Clinton to refuse to debate Donald Trump. She should instead announce a major televised town hall debate event in which she will answer serious questions directly from concerned American citizens.
It's important for Hillary Clinton to make this move for the following reasons:
- It's well known that a presidential debate legitimizes both candidates. It places the challenger on equal standing with the front runner. In the 2016 election, it's clear that Donald Trump does not deserve to stand on a presidential debate platform against any serious and hard-working politician.
- The debate itself would be a complete shitshow, an embarrassment for the American people, and a pointless exercise in solipsism. There can be no debate when there are no standards at all for factual accuracy. The Trump campaign has insulted the intelligence of the American people repeatedly with bold fabrications and mind-numbing excuses. What can possibly be gained by subjecting decent American citizens to hours of obvious falsehoods on prime time television?
- The American people will "get it", and will appreciate Clinton's strong gesture. Some may fear that Clinton will seem weak or afraid if she refuses to stand up to Trump. She can prevent this perception by confronting Trump directly in her words and challenging him to apologize to Muslims, Mexicans and women before she will allow him the honor of a debate.
- At the time of the first Presidential debate in 2012, it was clear to most Americans that Barack Obama was a far better candidate than Mitt Romney, and he was way ahead in the polls. But the lack of an exciting Presidential debate is disappointing to journalists and media outlets, and the first 2012 debate became the focal point of a major "Romney comeback" narrative that actually threatened to erase Obama's significant advantage in the race. There is absolutely no doubt that American news shows, cable shows, newspapers, magazines and blogs would use the occasion of debates to hungrily feed a "Trump comeback" narrative. This is an abomination we don't need, and given the truly disturbing violent nature of Trump's campaign, it's a risk we shouldn't take. We can win the election without a debate, so why shouldn't we do so?
I'd love to know: are any advisors within the Hillary Clinton campaign considering an announcement of a refusal to debate, or of a request for Trump to apologize before allowing him to debate? There has been no discussion at all of this likelihood, but we at Pacifism21 urge that the idea be given serious consideration. If I were advising Hillary Clinton, I would suggest she announce the decision with simple words like this:
"Donald Trump, you have not earned the respect of the American people, and have not proven yourself worthy of a major party candidacy for President of the United States. The Republican Party will have to answer for the fact that you are its nominee, but I will not honor their mistake by offering you a debate platform until you sincerely apologize to three groups of Americans: Muslims, Mexicans and women. Unless you are willing to offer this sincere apology, any further exchange of words would be a waste of time for the American people."