Sorry, I have no special insight into tonight’s debate. I’m guessing Hillary will win based on points, but that Trump will also win by being present on the same stage. More celebrity than politician, more showman than man of substance, Trump knows how to control his own image. Hillary will command the facts; Trump will command the audience’s attention. It’s a win-win for them but a lose-lose for America.
I had a strange dream last night. I dreamed that Trump arrived at the debate, riding a chariot and posing as Caesar. And the audience applauded. I was desperate to ask a question (yes, I was in the audience, don’t ask me how), and got the chance. I said something like this: “I was in the military for 20 years, serving my country, yet you, Donald Trump, dodged the draft during the Vietnam War. You claim to be on the side of veterans, but you arrive here dressed as Caesar, as a conquering hero, even though you yourself never served. Have you no sense of decency, sir? Have you no shame?”
We will get a narrow discussion of establishment views with considerable jousting and posturing (and perhaps some mugging from Trump), generating some heat but precious little light.
I swear: I rarely remember my dreams, and those that I do remember have nothing whatsoever to do with presidential politics. In my waking hours, I don’t think of Trump as Caesar. He’s more of a Nero, a deeply flawed narcissist who will fiddle while America burns.
Hillary raises different issues. I keep seeing, both in print and on TV, the argument that Hillary is imperfect, secretive, compromised by special interests, a person of questionable judgment, but that we must vote for her simply because SHE’S NOT TRUMP. Trump is so bad, such a hazard to democracy, the argument goes, that we must swallow the jagged big pill that is Hillary, no matter how painful that pill may prove, simply because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.
It’s sad indeed that some people’s best (only?) argument for Hillary is that SHE’S NOT TRUMP. For me, I can’t get past the Democratic Party’s efforts to rig the primary process in her favor against a true populist with integrity, Bernie Sanders. It’s Bernie, not Hillary, who should be running against Trump, but the Democratic Party establishment determined from the beginning that Hillary, not Bernie, would be its nominee.
Of course, both parties, Republican and Democrat, want to keep alternatives from us. The shameful part of tonight’s debate is that Gary Johnson (Libertarian) and Jill Stein (Green) are excluded. In short, there will be no “debate” tonight in any meaningful sense of that word. Instead, we will get a narrow discussion of establishment views with considerable jousting and posturing (and perhaps some mugging from Trump), generating some heat but precious little light.
Yes, I will watch the debate. I just hope some version of my dream of Caesar’s rapturous appearance doesn’t come to pass.
William J. Astore