So the first debate’s done. Hillary, by almost all accounts, won in a walk. At times she actually appeared to enjoy herself — a performance that said more about her so-called “stamina” than it did about what might actually make her happy.
The Donald played himself: boorish, breathtakingly uninformed and failing, as usual, to distinguish the difference between “winning” and actually having to govern.
If you think this assures a Clinton victory in November, think again. Early polling suggests that while she may have done herself a favor in this first confrontation with Trump, their race is still too close to call. We could wake up on the morning of November 9 in a country where Donald Trump is President-elect.
During the primary season, this prospect seemed a kind of joke. Comedians chortled about how thankful they were for all the material Trump provided. Cultural critics burnished their imagined street cred by stating the obvious: Donald Trump was turning politics into a new form of reality TV. Fans cheered when he bragged about his wealth, made fun of fellow candidates, attacked ethnic minorities, Muslims, women, and our allies. Gaping journalists sounded like Gen. Custer, wondering where all those angry Americans came from.
No one seemed to believe Trump could get this far.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was steamrolling her way to the Democratic nomination, a process as seemingly inevitable as it was joyless. This has turned out to be a major problem for Clinton — and for the rest of us, as well.
Although the very idea must offend the know-it-alls in charge of the Democratic Party, it turns out Hillary Clinton is not universally liked. There are reasons for this, including (but not limited to) her indulgent affinity for military-industrial power, and the ponderously self-serving way she has of rationalizing howling gaffes, like her support for the Iraq War or her failure to appreciate the conflicts-of-interest presented by the Clinton Foundation.
But as damaging as these things may be for Hillary, they are worse for us because they make her someone that even a sociopathic blowhard like Donald Trump might manage to beat.
This is a real threat — and we better take it seriously.
No, that doesn’t mean voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Anyone who does that isn’t voting for principle; they’re voting against Clinton, which, under the circumstances, is the same as voting for Trump.
People, myself included, have reason to be frustrated with government. Sometimes you’d like to start over. But electing Trump won’t do that. It will, instead, guarantee a Supreme Court religious zealots like Mike Pence and Ted Cruz can celebrate. This will almost certainly stamp out social progressivism for another generation — while encouraging delusional attempts, ala Brexit, to make America white again.
You might think this can’t happen. It’s too late. But what’s not too late is for all those angry white Americans to try and make it happen, doing incalculable damage to all of us in the process.
That’s why I’ll be voting for Clinton in November. I’m hoping against hope you will, too.