I could not watch last night’s “debate”. I value my sanity too much. I opted instead to watch “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” which was on FX. I figured if I was going to watch a man and a woman try to destroy each other, it should at least be a really sexy man and a really sexy woman. (Dammit, Brangelina! Why can’t you two work things out?!)
Anyway, the point of a debate, in my understanding, is to have an exchange of ideas in hopes of swaying the American public in the direction of one candidate or the other. I suppose that made sense in a time when candidates and their ideas weren’t being bolstered by a 24 hour news cycle. And I suppose in a situation where the candidates seem to be close on issues, debates are helpful to distinguish one from the other. Aside from the debacle with the supreme court, I think that one of the things that really hurt Al Gore when he ran against George W. Bush was that he didn’t do a great job of distinguishing himself. If you think back to those debates, there seemed to be a lot of agreement between the two. That is not the case in the America of 2016. The two candidates couldn’t be more different and I’m left wondering who these undecided people are.
Perhaps they are coma patients who lost consciousness in late 2014. Waking up to the unlikely scenario in which Hillary Clinton is in a seemingly close race with Donald Trump, our poor, recently reanimated friend watches the debates to make sense of this new political hellscape in which they find themselves, wondering the whole time if they are still unconscious and having some sort of fever dream.
Perhaps our undecided friends have been lost at sea, Castaway-style, with only sports equipment to keep them company. After carefully crafting a beacon out of seashells and palm leaves, they are rescued. When last our weary travel had any knowledge of the political landscape, the Republican party had failed to reclaim the white house after offering two politically experienced men against Barack Obama and was in the process of doing some soul searching as to how the party could reach out to a demographically shifting nation. Our seafaring friend is perplexed as to how a reality TV star was seen as the Republican answer to addressing its lack of diversity.
Perhaps the undecideds are time travelers. Not the normal kind who go back in time, the rare kind who find some sort of magical amulet that takes them forward in time. They care neither about Mr. Trump nor Mrs. Clinton, for they are too mesmerized by the enchanted screens that project images out to this strange new world. They are curious about the handheld devices our overlords are clearly using to keep us docile during our enslavement. They’re a little curious about cars.
Absent one of the above scenarios, I don’t fully understand how people are undecided right now. I get not liking your choices. I get wishing there were other options. I get third party protest voting for reasons of conscience. But I really don’t get being undecided at this point.
If you have decided to vote for Mr. Trump it seems to be because you a) enjoy his act, b) are a racist, c) you’re not a racist, but you’re okay with racism (which makes you a racist), d) you are incredibly loyal to your party (more on that later), or e) you really, really, really hate Mrs. Clinton.
Some people just like Donald’s style. He’s loud, he’s brash, he is unfiltered. He is id unrestrained. We’ve seen throughout (white male) history that some (white men) really like this style of “leadership”. It shows that you’re fearless and won’t be contained by pesky things like “facts” and “other people’s worth”. Good on ya’!
Some people are racist. When Trumps says “Make America Great Again” they hear “Make America White Again” and that really excites them! They really like the idea of brown people not having the same rights as white people and they will work hard to make sure that happens. Then there’s the group of people who don’t necessarily share that opinion, but they’re not going to speak out against it. Apparently being a racist is really hard, so some people like to outsource it to their cousins.
Some people are really loyal to their party. Those people seem willing to ignore that said party is being dragged into the gutter by the lowest common denominator of American public life. I don’t fully understand how this group of people isn’t completely outraged by the lack of humanity that Trump has displayed. I didn’t agree with McCain or Romney on policy issues, but I thought of them as gentlemen. George HW and George W Bush, both of whom I think did many things to hurt vulnerable people in this country, are both gentlemen, gentlemen who refuse to endorse Trump. Why isn’t that sinking in? THE LAST TWO REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTS REFUSE TO ENDORSE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE!!! Do you really think you love the party more than those two?
Some people really hate Mrs. Clinton. The Clinton hate machine has been operational most of my life. The Clinton hate machine was and continues to be about making ideological differences personal. The Clintons are the embodiment of the dreaded “liberalism” that all Republicans are contractually obligated to rail against. This is, of course, comical to those of us who realize how centrist the Clintons politics have been historically. Add to all of this that Mrs. Clinton is… well… a “Mrs.”. She was accused during her husband’s presidency of being the real president because we love the narrative of the controlling shrew. Then she was belittled for being cheated on (I’ll never understand that logic), belittled for sticking with her husband, belittled for only sticking with her husband because of her ambitions, belittled for being ambitious (Which is totally cool if you’re a man), belittled for being shrill, belittled for being frumpy, belittled for being unfriendly. In short, belittled for being a woman. The thin veneer of this being about politics has basically been exposed for being primarily about sexism.
At this point, I have to confess. I think I bought into many of the “unlikeable” Hillary narratives because of my own sexism. The Clinton-hating machine has been so ubiquitous in my life that it has at times obscured for me the fact that this is a woman that I should be really excited to vote for.
Look, there are just as many people who will be voting for Mrs. Clinton for reasons of party loyalty and strong dislike of Donald Trump. But there is one thing that people who are voting for Mrs. Clinton can say that Trump supporters really can’t say if they are being honest: Mrs. Clinton is incredibly qualified to be president and that should mean something. Mrs. Clinton has dedicated the entirety of her professional life to public service. Yes, she and her husband have become wealthy off of their work, but it’s impossible to say that they haven’t genuinely given back. She’s fought for education. She’s fought for healthcare. She’s fought for equality simply by virtue of subjecting herself to the rigors of running for president twice. She’s made some missteps particularly on issues of racial justice, but she owns them and I think she’s open to learning.
Look, I don’t have illusions about Mrs. Clinton being a perfect candidate. She will not dismantle American imperialism. I’m not sure any president could right now. I would love to see more progressive voices at the table and I will vote Green down ticket. If the Green party is ever going to have any sway in this country it will be from those who rise up the political ranks, not from opportunists who only show up during presidential elections. But in this election, the choice is really clear.
… unless you’re a racist or a sexist or extremely loyal to your party (which I addressed, reread that part)…
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