The third and final debate in the 2016 Presidential Election was arguably the most coherent debate of the series. Both parties raised legitimate concerns about the opposition while still maintaining a degree of dignity and composure. Trump accosted Clinton for her inability to bring about change over the last 30 years in regard to trade, her minority pandering, and her foreign policy blunders in the Middle East. In retaliation, Clinton attacked Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy (calling them “trickle-down economics on steroids”), his disgusting attitude towards women, and, most notably (other than his declaration he may not accept the results of the election), the way in which he conducts his business.
The main points made by Clinton were that, in spite of Trump’s vehement opposition to exporting jobs and using foreign resources in production, Trump Inc. has shifted jobs to 12 different countries and uses Chinese steel in the production of many of their buildings. This was especially damning as this point was made directly after he expressed his desires to regulate trade in favor of US production.
Although many speculated that Clinton would refrain from an offensive during this debate, both came out swinging. The implication of Clinton’s ad hominem attack is more significant than one might think. The cornerstone of Trump’s economic strategy has been that he plans on bringing manufacturing jobs, namely auto-production jobs, back to the United States. When Clinton directly acknowledged that his business’ actions fail to live up to his own standard, a dissonance was created; the validity of his argument was impeded because his actions and his plans do not align.
The implications of this misalignment produce a lack of trust within (mostly undecided) voters’ minds. The apparent irony in a decline in Trump’s trustworthiness is that, throughout the campaign, he has attempted to frame Hillary as untrustworthy. Now, it appears, that Trump has put himself in a position where he is seen as unstable, untrustworthy, and unable to accept defeat.