God Bless America! Who would you vote for?
I turned on the Trump-Hillary debate for just a couple of minutes, on Monday night, and I thought “Is this a re-run? Haven’t I seen this one already?”
Okay, I’m kidding… but only a bit. I made a point of not watching the debate. In fact, I taunted my Facebook peeps and Twitter followers with it, got ‘em all riled up, too. But what got me is how many of them refused to believe that I wasn’t going to watch. I mean, how could I not? This was perhaps the biggest television event in history! Part of the biggest and most important election campaign in history. And nothing will top it. Ever!
I do believe that to be true. And it’s partially because of the prevalence and permanence of social media, as far as political campaigning is concerned. But didn’t television play the same role when Nixon and Kennedy went head to head, setting the standard for all political debates that followed? Nixon hated the experience so much that he refused to do it again in ’68 and ’72. He’d been sick, just out of hospital. He was unshaven, disheveled, noticeably sweaty. Politicians are notoriously meticulous about their public image. But that’s out the window, now. There was no hiding Hillary’s plight during the 9/11 memorial, a cellphone video capturing her near-collapse as she was barely whisked away into a waiting SUV. I mean, at least I think it was Hillary. It looked like her from the back, but I digress…
This election campaign is different. And this week’s debate was different. Because as so many actors, comedians, and talk show hosts (like Steve Harvey, Samantha Bee, and the re-united cast of Will & Grace) have pointed out disbelievingly, Donald Trump is running for president! And depending on whom you ask, he may indeed still be the front-runner!
And as scandalized as that last sentence was designed to sound, I could just as easily replace “Donald Trump” with “Hillary Clinton,” because there are just as many, both inside and outside America, who fear that she might become the leader of the free world lest Trump and his supporters stop her.
But the debate hasn’t changed any of that. If you’re a Hillary supporter you probably think she won the debate, her political savvy and grace winning over Trump’s sniffling bluster. Conversely, if you’re a Trump supporter chances are you still are, and you think he won out over Hillary’s glib condescension. So what did the debate prove? According to statistics – and let’s just stick to the numbers that the pundits on either side agree on – there are still 20 percent who are undecided. Political debates are aimed at those potential voters.
During one rather passionate Facebook debate, an American friend piped in with “You people realize that whoever gets elected won’t be your president?” While I am aware of how this election will affect the rest of the world, free or otherwise, I do not have a dog in this fight. But I am interested in what makes people tick. “For a guy who claims to not be interested,” another Facebook friend, this one Canadian, wrote to me, “you sure post a lot about this.” Yes, because, again, I’m interested in what makes people tick. And the debate hasn’t changed that. In fact, it was more of an interruption in a stream of continuously loud and boisterous blather that won’t end anytime soon, not even after the election. In fact, it’ll probably only get worse.
In the meantime, I’ll be in the bath.
By: Dan Laxer – mtltimes.ca