Clinton Vs. Trump
A Circus Not Likely to Change Anything . . .
I made a conscious decision before I released Cuppa to abstain from political discussions while I flogged the book. I didn’t want to risk putting off any potential readers by offending their political sensibilities. It seems not to have made any difference in sales of the book, but it has made me a nervous wreck while the Trump juggernaut of ignorance and incivility gathers steam. The unthinkable prospect of an orange presidency is now upon us with most polls showing Trump and Clinton in a dead heat on the eve of the first presidential debate.
Well, enough is enough. Not that I think my paltry two cents worth is going to make a difference, but like Edmund Burke quipped in 1770, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” (It turns out that someone else may be the actual author of this pithy quote, but the incorrect attribution does not diminish its wisdom.) If for no other reason than the forces of evil might be heartened by my silence, I’m stepping back into the fray. Life is too short and the stakes are too high.
A lot of folks seem to think that tonight’s debate is going to be a watershed moment in the campaign. I think at this point that that is highly unlikely. I don’t think the debate is going to change very much—certainly not the polls—as it has been demonstrated over and over again since this cycle started that logic, civility, issues, and facts have no standing whatsoever in modern politics. This sad state of affairs puts Mrs. Clinton at a distinct disadvantage in both the debate and the election itself as logic, civility, issues and facts are her strengths, while snarky insults and immature name-calling are not. Those talents belong to The Donald and he is a master at maximizing their appeal to his baser base—the “basket of deplorables.”
That phrase alone could stand as the defining sound-bite of the campaign. It’s a pretty good phrase actually. It encapsulates Trump’s appeal to our worst instincts in just three words. It speaks to Trump’s gleeful normalization of the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and insensitive tendencies we all have in varying degrees, but have managed to keep tamped down and restrained because they are just so un-American and wrong-headed. The problem is that when Hillary said it, she stepped over the line into Trump’s theater of operations. She got sucked in, and then she got trampled in the stampede to brand her in kind. In short, while true in large measure, the phrase backfired and strengthened Trump’s claim on the basket. I can’t count the number of people I have seen on social media platforms who have proudly added ‘deplorable’ to their profiles in solidarity with their king.
Publishing My Prediction Before the Debate Because Hindsight Doesn’t Prove Anything, Does it?
Here’s how I think the debate is going to go:
- Trump will be Trump. He can do no other thing, and he probably doesn’t think he has to, no matter what his people have been telling him. If he tries to be civil and logical and talk about issues, he will be creamed. He knows this better than anyone. He will continue to do exactly the things that have brought him thus far because they work for him.
- Clinton will be Clinton. She will be smart and insightful. She will exhibit a command of the issues. She will speak from experience and intelligence. None of this will have the slightest impact on Trump or his followers.
- If Trump is Trump and Clinton is Clinton, the debate will be a draw. No one will win. We as a nation will be an embarrassment on the world stage for the simple reason that we cannot rise above our differences to make ourselves just a little bit better than the sum of our parts.
But Could Result in the U.S. Becoming the U.K.
The above scenario is the most likely one as I see it, but there is another possibility. Frustrated and incredulous, Hillary Clinton might succumb to the temptation to out-Donald the Donald. She then sinks to his level. She abandons logic and civility for snark. She plays right into Trump’s hands. He is, after all, a consummate master of getting people to come down into the mud with him. He is like a petulant four-year-old. You can never beat a four-year-old in an argument. That’s why the phrase “because I said so” was invented by an exasperated mother eons ago. You can lose to a four-year-old however. All you have to do is try to act like one.
This is the only scenario under which Trump actually wins the debate. Even if, by some miracle of karma, Hillary could manage a devastating barb, a verbal knock-out blow that leaves him gasping on the ropes with his hair askew and his eyes glazed over, she will only get a draw in the decision. It will be enough that Trump made her a brawler when she should stick to finesse. Worse, Trump will have forever ruined American political discourse. We will become like one of those third world countries where legislative sessions regularly devolve into shouting, chair throwing, and fisticuffs. We will be just like the United Kingdom.
If this last thing happens, it seems a foregone conclusion to me that Trump wins the election. I’ve been looking for places to move. My favorites so far are Trinidad and Tobago, which you can read about in my book and then speculate on my reasons, or Tofino, BC, Canada. More on Tofino in the next few days. Stay tuned.
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