US Presidential Candidates vs Expert ISM Wordsmiths

Article by: Carlos Po

To be a successful politician, there are a number of things you have to be good at: kissing babies, personifying the average Joe or Jane, and most importantly, choosing words wisely, especially when the world is watching you. This is something that any member of ISM’s Debate and Forensics or Model United Nations club would understand well.

After breathless anticipation, the world finally witnessed the two United States presidential candidates go head-to-head during the presidential debate last week. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton battled it out on international television, mincing words like fresh cloves of garlic.

Mr. Relf, head supervisor of the school’s Model United Nation club, had some choice words about the tactics used by both candidates in the debate.

“It’s astounding,” he commented. “A lot of the things [Donald Trump] says have no basis anywhere.” He noted the lack of reliable fact-checking in the debate, emphasizing the contrast with the code of the club that he runs.

“When a delegate goes up to speak, he or she has a moral obligation to be speaking the truth. Besides, how embarrassing would it be for another delegate to prove that something someone is saying is factually untrue?” Mr. Relf added, “There’s a lot of appeals to emotion, and these overpower reason,” citing the Brexit EU referendum and the election of Rodrigo Duterte to president of the Philippines as other examples. He stressed that nothing was inherently wrong with appeals to emotion, and that they are in fact a huge facet of MUN, but did mention that ideally, they should be secondary to the actual logic of a speaker’s points.

Francis A., a senior masterful MUN Secretary General, threw his own opinions into the mix as well.

From my perspective, I believe that both candidates pace themselves well,” Francis said. Francis made particular note of the vastly differing debate styles of both candidates, and what these styles do in terms of image. “Clinton is a very mellow speaker, while Trump is more forceful. Both candidates use hand gestures, but Trump utilizes them more. If you observe his speeches closely, he does this motion where he sways up and down on the right side of the podium.”

He concludes, “Clinton’s language is slightly more complex than Trump’s, but in all honesty, that’s not really a bad tactic to adopt when trying to win an election. In terms of emotion, Trump wins while Clinton fares better in presenting a diplomatic image.”

So while the US presidential race continues in its neck-in-neck power struggle, we, as ISM viewers, can rest assured that candidates know exactly what they’re doing when they speak. Whether this knowledge will work to our advantage or not, we will have to find out in November.