The Presidential Debate Reading List

Clinton and Trump face-off again this Sunday. Here’s a list of things you should read to be more informed on the issues than the candidates.

October 07, 2016
The Presidential Debate Reading List Illustration by Leah Mandel / Schoolhouse Rock/Disney

The second Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is taking place this Sunday, October 9. During the last debate, we watched with disbelief (and some cringing), as the idea of truth fell flat on the ground and was stomped on by the big fat shoes of political rhetoric. It’s not that politicians have ever been truthful — it’s that this particular election cycle is rife with falsehoods, and sometimes it’s hard to remember what’s actually going on in the world (hint: it’s a lot different than the way our candidates see it).

Lester Holt was accused of not being stern enough with Trump, letting him go on about Sean Hannity instead of turning his mic off when his time was up. This time around, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’s Martha Raddatz will be moderating, and they’ve both hinted at a hands-off approach. It’s also going to be a town-hall style debate, which means half of the questions for the candidates will come from undecided voters (you can read, vote for, and submit your own questions here). It’s sure to be another free-for-all, but at least we’ll be prepared this time.

In an effort for more clarity and in an attempt to not to go insane while watching the debate, we’ve compiled a reading list on the topics that might come up during Sunday’s potential chaos. (We won't lie to you: it's pretty clear we're not Trump supporters, but we are supporters of not lying ... unless your name is Joanne.) Use these articles to plant yourself firmly in reality, as anchors to keep you secured amid the storm.

Where Clinton And Trump Stand On Key Issues [BBC]

First things first! Our presidential candidates are competing to win the right to decide the future of our country, an incredibly difficult, complicated task. In the election cycle, all those important things are reduced to a handful of topics, which we like to call the major issues. Taxes, climate change, healthcare, the refugee crisis, etc — here's where Clinton and Trump have set their feet.

See also: The Big Issues Of The 2016 Campaign [FiveThirtyEight], Which Republicans Oppose Donald Trump? [The Atlantic]

The Really (Really) Racist History Of Gun Control In America [MTV News]

No one is trying to eliminate guns from the U.S. completely. It's not about that. The issue is that the wrong people have them. There's no regulation. Except things like Rudy Giuliani's unconstitutional Stop And Frisk plan (which, in the last debate, Donald Trump tried to say was OK, and good for the whole country — it's not), which is so racist that the numbers show 90 percent of black and Latino men arrested during the period of its use were innocent.

We want mass shootings to end, but we also want police to stop shooting unarmed (and legally armed) black people. There's a lot going on here, and it would do our potential future POTUS well to acknowledge the ongoing injustice.

See also: America's Gun Problem, Explained [Vox], Research Suggests Gun Background Checks Work, But They're Not Everything [NPR], What It’s Like To Be A Black Cop In Baltimore [BuzzFeed], Ramsey Orta Is In Prison Now, Is This What Happens To Copwatchers? [The FADER]

The Politics Of Climate [Pew Research Center]

When it comes to the environment, it's best to trust actual, real life scientists who know what they're talking about. Barack Obama has said that climate change is the world's greatest threat, which means it's also America's greatest threat — we should all be scared.

As many pointed out, there was no mention of the environment during the last debate. Cross your fingers the candidates find some time between arguing about Twitter to talk about the dire state of our earth.

See also: A New Dark Age Looms [NYT], Some Of The Most Delicious Foods In the World Are Disappearing [The Atlantic], History Is Melting [Hakai]

How Most States Allow Discrimination Against LGBT People [Vox]

Though the right to same sex marriage was granted under the Obama administration, there's no end to the discrimination LGBTQ individuals face daily. And it's not just words of hate, it's institutionalized persecution on the basis of religious right.

See also: Did Police Homophobia Allow A Serial Killer To Target Gay Men For Over A Year? [VICE], The Conviction Of HIV-Positive "Tiger Mandingo" [BuzzFeed]

How Citizens United Changed Politics, In 7 Charts [WP]

Money: Donald Trump never stops talking about it; Hillary Clinton rarely mentions it. There's money all up in the election process, and it needs to get out. Unfortunately we're not there yet, but you need to be aware of how the candidates' personal finances will affect them, and therefore us.

For a prime example of how "there is no freedom in this world but power and money," read about how billionaire Trump supporter (and rumored potential Supreme Court nominee) Peter Thiel murdered Gawker.

See also: The Stark Difference Between Clinton And Trump's Tax Plans, And How They Address "Loopholes" [WP], Want To Know Who Will Win The White House? Watch The Stock Market [Salon]

Affluent And Black, And Still Trapped By Segregation [NYT]

If we're talking about the economy, we desperately need to talk about race as well. For instance, the places where welfare and similar programs actually work, are typically mainly white communities.

See also: Oregon's White Welfare Utopia [The Atlantic]

When Public Schools Go Private [The American Prospect]

One of the most popular questions posed on the Presidential Open Debate website is about education. How will our next president address student debt? Privatization of public schools? Inequality in classrooms? There's so much nuance and complexity in America's education problem, which is why you need to read all of these articles.

See also: The Reason Behind Colleges' Ballooning Bureaucracies [The Atlantic], Black Students Don’t Even Get an Equal Education in Diverse Schools [Bloomberg]


How America's Criminal Justice System Became The Country's Mental Health System [Vox]

Hitting two birds with one stone here: mental health and mass incarceration. We don't talk about mental health enough. It's stigmatized, associated heavily with mass shootings, and contributes to a large amount of homelessness. It also feeds into our country's overstuffed prison system, which, thanks to many investigative pieces, we know is a disaster.

See also: Why Mass Incarceration Defines Us As A Society [Smithsonian], The Black Family In The Age Of Mass Incarceration [The Atlantic], America's Whites-Only Weed Boom [BuzzFeed]

Here's Where Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Stand On Immigration [Business Insider]

Immigration is a huuuuuuge issue for Donald Trump, he loves to talk about that Big Old Wall he's definitely going to build. Hill's trying to appeal to Latino voters, so they're on different sides of the proverbial fence. It's worth noting that Trump is racist, so his stance on immigration is likely (100 percent) racist and really not based on facts at all, but rather fear mongering that appeals to disenfranchised Americans.

See also: The Immigration Debate, Explained In 14 Buzzwords [Vox], What Does Immigration Actually Cost Us? [NYT], Gaps In Melania Trump's Immigration Story Raise Questions [Politico], The Desperation Of Indian Housewives In The U.S.A. [Quartz]

Why It's So Hard To Run An Abortion Clinic [Bloomberg]

It's an understatement to say that not everyone agrees on abortion, but the issue is a good spot to focus both on healthcare and women's rights.

See also: The War On Planned Parenthood [Rolling Stone], Health Is Wealth [The FADER]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Explained [NYT]

Foreign policy! It's one of the world's favorite topics, and you'll be hearing it over and over again for the next two months. Hillary Clinton has been Secretary of State — we all know she was in the room when Obama did Bin Laden in — so there should be no doubt that she's up to the task of negotiating with foreign leaders. Which is, duh, really important. Trump has no idea what he's talking about; the only foreign leader he has any respect for is, of all people, Vladimir Putin.

See also: Trump, China, And The Ties That Bind [Racked], On Nuclear Policy, Trump And Clinton Agree: Armageddon Is An Option [The Nation]

The Presidential Debate Reading List