Before the Clinton vs. Trump “Super Bowl” of Presidential Debates, will you kneel with Time cover boy Colin Kaepernick?
I’ve had pneumonia before, and it knocked me on my butt for nearly two weeks.
So to see Hillary Clinton bounce back to continue her presidential campaign has
earned her “Iron Woman” status in my eyes.
But I’ve seen her in action and bounce back all throughout her career. There was
the stinging setback in her drive for health care reform as First Lady. The
countless attacks on her character from the media and right-wing partisans. The
fundraising scandals with Asian Americans. The personal scandals throughout the
Clinton Administration. The stunning rebuke in the 2008 campaign.
Hillary Clinton has weathered it all.
And here she is again for the American people, the top surviving politician
vying for the highest political office in the free world, battling an opponent
who, by choice, is running an anti-political campaign to appeal to voters who
have given up and are willing to throw their votes away.
It’s made this the most frustrating campaign ever, and now the two candidates
will be side-by-side for easy comparison.
I don’t expect Hillary to wither on Monday for the biggest debate of her
One hundred million people are expected to tune in for the high point of a
campaign that has been less on the issues and more on the visceral appeal of the
The polls suggest these are the two most disliked candidates ever to run for the
It’s the Nose Clip Presidential Debate of 2016.
The big question to ask as you watch: Who comes out smelling best?
Who will allow the majority of Americans to breathe freely about the future of
our democracy and our country?
It would be great to look at a list of issues and check them off.
But the issues seem to matter less than ever before.
For Clinton, the key visceral issue seems to be her “likeability.”
Maybe that’s why this week, the most engaging thing to come out of the campaign
was Hillary’s participation in the satirical talk show, “Between Two Ferns” with
comedian Zach Galifianakis.
And why not?
The thing that made Donald Trump famous was a primetime reality show.
If you doubted Clinton’s sense of play, watch the short segment.
It shows the Hillary that the media, the stump speeches, and the Trump portrayal
don’t let you see.
She’s no liar. She’s no buffoon. The talk show may have been scripted, but it
shows Clinton as a woman who can take a joke, have fun, and still look like the
leader of the free world.
Real issue-wise, people I know are still concerned about Hillary’s e-mail issue.
But they’re feasting on thin, watered down gruel, which one does when there’s
More substantial concerns are raised by those who actually like Clinton, but
watched the Sanders-Clinton debates and saw big red flags when she mentioned
former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a mentor. It further cast Clinton
as a war-hawk in a time when war and terror can disrupt life at a moment’s
Still, compare her to Trump, whose reactive stances are so unpredictable. Again,
ask yourself, who would make you breathe easier in these tense times?
Domestically, it’s not even close.
If you’re an Asian American or person of color, Hillary has reached out. DAPA
and DACA under the Obama plan would not be endangered. But Trump has defined the
perimeter for our country. He’s ready to put up a wall of any kind, literally or
metaphorically, at any time, anywhere, most likely with you on the other side.
And when there are no walls, Trump is all for invading your private space. His
response to the recent outcries against violence and terrorism has been to
suggest a law-and-order approach that has already been declared
by a federal judge when it was implemented in New York.
Trump’s advocacy of stop-and-frisk shows how quick he is to throw out the
Constitution and restore his own reign of terror in urban America. But
stop-and-frisk just doesn’t work.
CNN reported that
between 2004 and 2012, out of 4.4 million stopped, 87 percent were African
American or Latino.
Only 12 percent were charged with crimes, meaning a whopping 88 percent were
In a constitutional democracy, you can call that unnecessary uber-policing.
You’d expect a leader of the United States to have more respect for the
But time and again, Trump, the anti-politician, has shown a profound
misunderstanding of the foundation of our country and the civil liberties we all
For example, here’s Trump on the peaceful protest of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL’s
kneeling Gandhi/MLK hybrid: “I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think
it’s a terrible thing. And you know, maybe he should find a country that works
better for him, let him try. It won’t happen.”
Because Trump apparently believes an America without constitutional rights to
dissent and free speech should be just fine for those of us like
Kaepernick—people of color concerned with their civil rights and issues like
I live relatively close to where Kaepernick went to high school in California.
Once a beloved NFL hero, his demotion has actually been a good thing. It’s
allowed for the rise of his self-identity, not just as a person of color, but as
a person of conscience as well. It’s earned him his place on the cover of Time
But as we come to the presidential campaign’s big debate, the coincidence of the
police shootings in Charlotte and Tulsa should make us all understand how
Kaepernick’s stand is more relevant than ever.
And it provides yet another way to view Monday’s debate.
Ask yourself which candidate sees America the way it should be for all.
And before the debate starts, as it likely begins with the playing of the
national anthem, as is often done at public events, don’t rise reflexively, as
if it doesn’t matter.
Think about it. Wherever you are. Rise if you must. But kneel, if you feel, and
pray for the better America we want for all of us.
Your candidate should be the one who doesn’t make us hold our breath to see what
Likely, she’ll be the one who will allow us to breathe more freely in our
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page. The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.