October 11, 2016
Horse 2173 - The Town Hall Debate Where Ordinary People Talk To The Candidates
I'm sorry America but you've convinced that you shouldn't be allowed to have a democracy any more. Not only have you selected someone who is in reality sixty ferrets in a man costume as the "conservative" candidate but you've also picked someone who thinks that dealing with registered terrorist organisations is somehow good for the security of the world. One of these two contenders will have their finger on the nuclear button and I think that is more dangerous than who you selected at the opening of the century, who was someone so inept that they couldn't even say the word "nuclear". Four years ago, the Town Hall debate which has traditionally been the second of three, was probably the undoing of Mitt Romney when he dithered on policy. From the governor we never heard any specifics beyond Big Bird and the proposed defunding of PBS. When you place politicians in front of real people, it becomes very apparent very quickly that the barbs and political bombs thrown by the public have far bigger potential to ruin campaigns than anything that choreographed media can invent. This time around, the public's barbs were mostly innocuous compared with the suits of thorns that both candidates were already wearing. The thing that people have said about Donald Trump that they like is that he is prepared to speak his mind. The problem is that he is prepared to speak his mind; even when there's nothing in it and worse, when there is something in it. If Donald Trump had been running along side John C Calhoun in the days of open racism, slavery and when things like Twitter, Facebook, Television, Radio, Telegraph and even daily newspapers weren't a thing, then maybe we might have been speaking about him as a horrible person from the past and not a horrible person in the present. On the other hand, all that Hillary Clinton has had to do in order to put up a credible alternative to the man whose hair looks like it was made from plastidip, is stand still and look normal. In a presidential cycle where common sense isn't, she hasn't really been probed or faced serious scrutiny since Bernie Sanders and the DNC back in June. I think that it is generally accepted that Hillary won the Town Hall debate but that's mainly because Trump had to spend most of the time defending himself against things that he'd actually said in the past. When it came to issues like foreign policy or labour issues, they all played second fiddle to the ongoing hurricane that is Donald Trump. The Republican National Committee at this point doesn't really know what to do and the impression that I get from news media at the moment is that they've pretty well much written off 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as an option, and that they're busily thinking about down ballot races and trying to stop the Democrats from sweeping through both houses with a brand new broom. I know that this is awful but William Hill was running a book on the likelihood of President Trump being assassinated as early as June. It didn't take long for the market to tighten and the odds being offered on Trump being assassinated were shorter than Obama, even in July. This is most likely money for jam (or old rope; depending on how you like to spend your frivolous mad money) but the mere fact that this exists is cause for concern. As little as two days ago I'd had both candidates counting at about 240 Electoral College votes a piece but increasingly it appears as though the path for Donald Trump is bleak. This year's October surprise unbelievably isn't Hurricane Matthew and the implications surrounding voter registrations but simply the aftermath and destruction of Donald Trump's words against himself. In many respects the Town Hall debate was always going to be a spring loaded trap for Trump. The mere existence of recordings which confirm his misogyny don't help his cause in the slightest. Admittedly, Hillary should have faced the very real question of the issue of her keeping a private email server and the deletion of more than 33,000 emails, which has immensely serious national security issues but her apology is more readily accepted by the media than Trump's explanation of something from more than five years ago. Trump pointed to the existence of ISIS as being the fault of Hillary and Obama but he couldn't make this stick because questions were then asked of him about his statements about refugees and immigrants. A hard line will play very well in the Republican primaries but not in the general election and the refusal of both Trump and the Republican Party to properly play together has left Trump heavily exposed. On issues of taxation, Hillary talked about imposing extra levies on people with incomes of over a million dollars and Trump spoke of things like the carried interest provisions which actually have nothing to do with interest. In speaking the words of business, Trump might very well be speaking truth but it doesn't play with the average voter. There was also the highly obfuscatory question about the vacancy in the Supreme Court. As it stands, Republicans in the Senate have unilaterally taken it upon themselves to block Obama's nominee and the court has only had eight judges for months. Both Trump and Hillary accused the other of potentially making a bad choice for the appointment and appealed to voters on the basis of perceived damage that the other could do. This late in the piece, these debates do nothing for swinging opinion towards candidates. Especially in this cycle where name recognition was well over 98% before the primaries began and where acid and bile has been spat profusely, these debates will have the opposite effect where in a system where voting is optional, people will choose to opt out in an act of protest (which I think is actually civic laziness writ large) and the number of votes will shrink rather than expand. Maybe in previous years there may have been undecided voters but in 2016, I think that that is impossible.