Under the main stage spotlight at Washington University, a single voter closed the contentious second presidential debate with a final request.
“Regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?” Karl Becker asked of both nominees.
Becker’s petition couldn’t have come at a better time, as this presidential season more than most has been plagued by insensitive and mud-slinging dialogue between the nominees vying for the Oval Office seat in just two short months.
This turbulent election climate is not completely misplaced. It actually serves as an appropriate reflection of our current divisive state as a nation, one that has pitted blue lives against black lives, white collar against blue collar and conservatives against liberals. In the face of brutal police shootings, destructive weather storms, a refugee displacement crisis and domestic economic turmoil, the resulting confusion, helplessness and anger have stirred voters across the nation like never before.
Enter Donald Trump, a political outsider with the resources and speech to give voice to those feeling disgruntled and unheard. However, according to CNN commentator Mel Robbins, the reason behind loyalty of Trump supporters may have nothing to do with Trump himself.
“The election isn’t about greatness, the future, or even Donald Trump. It’s about defiance,” Robbins wrote in an CNN article published on Oct. 9.
Everything that Trump says and does qualifies as unfit presidential conduct, which is exactly his allure.
“To his supporters, a vote for Trump is a way to flip the middle finger to the system, the media, the elite, the liberals, the know-it-alls and the people who pretend they’re better than ‘us,’” Robbins continued.
If we want even a semblance of a unified nation, we must vote, not out of spite but for a system that has kept us together as one country for centuries.
In the moments after the question, as the laughter waned in the presidential debate auditorium, Clinton pointed to Trump’s positive parenting ability as something that she respected about him.
“I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald,” Clinton said of her opponent. “I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that, and I think that is something as a mother and a grandmother is very important to me.”
Trump gave a similarly sincere compliment.
“I will say this about Hillary, she doesn’t quit, she doesn’t give up. I respect that. She’s a fighter,” Trump responded.
Perhaps “Both nominees, although they display the worst of America as a land of heckling and divisiveness, also demonstrate the best of America, as a place where we are still able to end heated debates with a civilized handshake. That is the ultimate thing missing in politics as of late: respect.