Bad experience

Wednesday night, Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton had “bad experience.”

It was a failed attempt to use what is really his only playing card left against the former secretary of state — that she stands for the status quo and he doesn’t.

But “bad experience” is really what his candidacy has been for the country.

That dangerous lesson culminated Wednesday night with Trump’s refusal to confirm that he would support the outcome of the election. His only response: “I will look at it at the time.”

Having a candidate tinker with such a basic aspect of democracy is bad experience for next time.

Unfortunately, it’s just the tip of the iceberg with Trump.

This isn’t the first ‘unprecedented’ moment of the campaign

His failure to release his tax returns is a terrible precedent for Americans should be able to scrutinize potential conflicts in their leaders’ business dealings.

His praise for dictators and cavalier attitude toward American alliances is already damaging American standing around the world.

His continued repellent comments about women have been bad experience for millions of Americans. He continued them Wednesday night, closing the debate by calling Clinton a “nasty woman.”

One of Clinton’s high points of the evening had been her cold, ferocious take-down of his comments bragging about sexual assault which have taken over the last weeks of the campaign along with the women who have come forward to confirm that what he said he did.

To see a man talk and act that crassly toward the opposite sex has been bad experience.

As has his airing of some of the worst racist stereotypes in recent American history, his pandering to a fevered alt-right base that cheers dog-whistles about “inner cities” and the supposedly uneducated, jobless throngs that populate them. He doesn’t even dog whistle anymore — Wednesday the Republican presidential nominee was hardly a sentence past his usual “inner cities” line when he couldn’t help but say how little Clinton had done for the African-Americans and the Latinos. Giving these kinds of viewpoints a public platform, in the guise of a rebellion against political correctness, is a bad precedent.

But it’s not just words.

That a businessman this uninterested and uninformed about international, national, even economic affairs is bad experience for next election.

We saw Trump’s unfitness for handling any complex problem at all Wednesday night in his fumbling for a coherent answer on the battle for Mosul, a city and conflict he clearly does not understand and is not inclined to investigate. He seemed to imply that the biggest challenge in taking Mosul was the lost “element of surprise,” and went on from there into a strange rant alleging that the president was supporting the battle in order to support Clinton’s candidacy.

Wouldn’t you have a deeper analysis if you were about to command armed forces, some of whom are already fighting that battle because an American commander-in-chief told them to? To rely instead on political talking points is irresponsible, but also immoral.

What we haven’t talked about

The Trump candidacy has also been “a” bad experience, for the many voters who would not considering casting ballots for him.

Starting the moment he descended the escalator in Trump Tower 16 months ago, continuing to the present: his lips leaning close to a microphone, again and again, to burp out the word “wrong.” Soon it will all be done.

Throughout this experience we won’t have prepared for any of the challenges the next president and the next generation are likely to face: climate change, for one, which never got more than a Democratic aside at the debates.

No discussion about making life better for the poor, apart from that proverbial but largely undefined middle class. Much bluster but no actual answers on what America’s place in the world should be.

It’s been that kind of empty election cycle — and the only experience we’ve gained is what not to do.


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