Confetti and balloons fall from the rafters, music plays, and the atmosphere is jubilant, parked somewhere between a rock concert and a homecoming pep rally. It’s all intended to convey inevitability, invincibility, and, most of all, the moral absolutism of the candidate and the party. Everything the party and the candidate have espoused is right for America, and everything the other party and their candidate have said is wrong for America, even if the two are saying pretty much the same things.
This has been the way of American politics for decades now, without any consideration of what is right or even true. We are living in the age of the sound bite, which appears to be the final act of the Republic, as those with the smallest attention spans seek to hear only what confirms their hyperbolic beliefs, while others do exactly the same for the other side. For those of us in the political wasteland, there is a rare opportunity to listen to both candidates without canned bias, since we find both equally terrible.
In the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there was a lot said, and the debates themselves are about defining differences between the candidates and their platforms. Each candidate attempts to establish the soundness of one political framework while deconstructing the other, always striving to hold the moral and logical high ground. Nothing completely undermines this effort faster, however, than the words “I agree…“
“Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second
party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which
make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the
issues troubling the people…”
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In the 90 minute presidential debate on September 26th, 2016, Donald agreed with Hillary no less than six times (only once being ironic). With each agreement, Donald not only successfully undermined over thirty years of Republican Party efforts, he may well have also torpedoed his own candidacy. It’s difficult to explain the extent of his total implosion without painfully recounting every statement in its entirety, so, as briefly as possible, here unfolds each concession.
“As far as child care is concerned and so many other things,
I think Hillary and I agree on that…”
Kicking off the entire debate, Hillary proposed the usual litany of socialist entitlement goodies, including federally subsidized child care, federally subsidized college, increasing of the minimum wage, and many other long standing Democratic policy points. After a very stream of consciousness opening statement about how America is losing and other countries are “stealing our companies and our jobs“, Donald inexplicably agreed with Hillary’s point about child care and “so many other things“. This agreement, more so than any other, made it very clear that the debate was between two socialists.
“You go to Ferguson, so many other places. You need better
relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this. You need
A good deal later, with Donald already on the defensive about his business success, the debate turned to racial tensions in the United States. Donald rambled on about lack of law and order in cities where racial tensions have boiled into violence, then comes suddenly to agreeing with Hillary Clinton’s general statement that the breach between police officers and the communities they serve must be healed. This was a very circuitous route, trampling on the toes of the black communities he’s supposedly trying to reach, and he managed to simultaneously damage his own political position while confirming Hillary’s.
“I agree with you. When a person is on a watch list or a no-fly list,
and I have the endorsement of the NRA, which I’m very proud of.”
Then came the last segment, the portion of the debate more or less dedicated to foreign affairs. Hillary pushed the Democratic “No Fly. No Buy.” policy that violates individual Second Amendment rights by preventing individuals on the federal government’s federal “terrorist watch list” and “no fly list” from being able to legally purchase fire arms, regardless of whether they are an actual Jihadist or a member of the Tea Party. Donald, supposedly some stalwart of the gun rights crowd now, agreed with her, apparently believing that gutting the Second Amendment somehow conserves it.
“As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what secretary Clinton
said, we should be better than anybody else, and perhaps
On the issue of cyber-terrorism, Hillary pointed out the growing threat of highly skilled, well funded, and coordinated foreign actors conducting espionage over the internet. Donald replied with a rambling, incoherent, and largely ignorant answer that showed he hasn’t completely been paying any attention to his intelligence briefings. After a word salad answer, he paused long enough to agree with Hillary, before continuing his rambling, incoherent, stream of consciousness response that terminated in an evocation of grossly obese internet troll hackers, because the worst insult Donald can come up for someone is apparently “fat“.
“I agree with her on one thing. The single greatest problem
the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons…”
By now very much on the defensive, Donald found himself called out on ridiculous statements he’d made during the Republican Primary about arming Japan and South Korea with nuclear weapons. Rambling once again, he again agreed with Hillary Clinton’s assessment of foreign policy in the nuclear age, while also attempting an ineffective swipe at an earlier reference to climate change. If he hadn’t already been on his heels for nearly twenty minutes, this attack might have been more effective, but as it was, it simply seemed desperate.
“So she has experience, I agree…”
The final agreement was more or less ironic, in yet another repetitive and ineffective attack on Hillary’s experience. And Donald wanted to make sure everyone knew he was attacking Hillary’s experience, so he said the word “experience” seven times in six sentences. By this point in the debate, Donald was undoubtedly completely off script. Hillary has successfully proven she was far more “presidential” to the lumpkin voters that need to be convinced of such a thing, and far more in control of herself than Donald, as his responses were basically flailing at this point.
“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”
-Robert A. Heinlein-
There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a disaster unfold while fully knowing that it could have and should have been averted. Being forced to watch as a crude, banal, narcissistic, self absorbed man ham fisted his way through a debate against a cynical, venal, unscrupulous, self serving politician, simply because he believed he was above preparing for it was torturous. And this is not to mention the three additional times I had to watch the debate just to ensure I could correctly present it.
It’s hard to imagine any of the other potential Republican candidates simply choosing not to prepare for such a critical debate, bragging about not preparing during the debate, and losing the debate so obviously in front of millions of potential voters. Picture practically any of the other Republican candidates on that debate stage, Fiorina, Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Jindal, or even Bush, and that’s all it takes. Unfortunately, we live in the age of the sound bite and reality TV star.
There is no accounting for the unchecked rage of self righteous uneducated voters, who believe fame and wealth indicate, in any way, intelligence or capability. Despite warnings, pleadings, and, at the last, a desperate stand, the “will of the people” brought us one of the most lop sided debate performances since Socrates. Given the ridiculous attempts by Donald Trump and his vain supporters to assert that he had somehow actually won the first debate, it’s clear that we live in a country gone absolutely mad, where the truth simply doesn’t matter anymore.
The true horror of this election is that we know for certainty that ours is no longer a moral nation. No honest nation could produce such a pair of vainglorious louts as these two, and no honest nation would then proceed to bald faced lie about it. Is there a good and noble leader left in these times of universal deceit at all?
The good news is that there is just such a person…
Liberty is For The Win!
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