On the morning of the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, my overburdened in-box is filled with subject lines like, “Nate Silver says it’s a dead heat,” and “Hillary’s losing.” Behind all of the hyperbolic fear mongering is the never-ending quest for donations, but back in the real world, the race is far, far closer than it should be. I don’t doubt for a second that Hillary is sitting backstage somewhere or on a plane wondering for the millionth time why she isn’t fifty points ahead of Trump in the polls. We should all be wondering that.
A portion of the blame goes to the corporate media. If the presidential race isn’t a close one, viewers will become bored and tune out, so it’s in their best interests to continuously sell the drama of a neck and neck competition. A second issue is the successful demonization of the Clintons, and especially Hillary, among the right wing media over the past twenty-five years. They’ve accused her of every crime from witchcraft to murder and in the echo chamber of the wing-nut nation if a Clinton is involved, it has to be true.
Most discouraging of all, however, is that there exists in this country of public education, twenty-four seven news and the vast information resources of the Internet such a large group of voters who are unable to discern fact from fiction, reality from ideology. I’ve watched interviews with Trump supporters and while they’re often intended to be humorous, it strikes me as tragic that adults in America in 2016 would lack the basic, almost childish, intellectual skills needed to see that Donald Trump is completely unfit to be President of the United States.
I’d like to think that the debates will be a game-changer, that Hillary will decimate the woefully inept Trump and put his ignorance on display for all to see, but we know that won’t be the case. Trump could stand at his podium and not say a word for an hour and his supporters would declare him the winner. If he walked over and punched Hillary in the nose, his people would anoint him a god. The Clinton/Trump battle isn’t a competition between two ideologies, it is a fight between two versions of reality.