Rumble at Hofstra: Trump V. Clinton Round One

I watched the entire debate last night and spent most of the time wondering if you were somehow able to strip away all preconceptions from the audience, so that we could simply listen to two people speak, how difficult would it be for even the most bitterly partisan among us to decide who would make a preferable leader? One candidate was incoherent eighty percent of the time. Not as a matter of conservative or liberal advocacy, but in terms of possessing the ability to articulate a position, finish a thought, use rudimentary sentence structure, or focus on a single concept long enough to imply that they’d given it prior consideration. The other candidate was at times stiff and over-rehearsed, but was easily able to vocalize their positions, and had a clear grasp of detail and policy. One person repeatedly masked their ignorance and confusion about the most basic issues with free-form bombast, tautology, and opaque references to renegotiating trade deals. The other no doubt used evasions and calculated attacks to camouflage their own weaknesses, but was otherwise calm, rational, intelligent, and, most importantly, avoided making claims that could be instantly disproven by anyone with a phone and a search engine. Finally, one candidate’s vision of the country consisted of nothing but fearful denunciations; every other politician was a hack, every decision a disaster, every deal the worst deal ever negotiated, all businesses failing, all public utterances a disgrace, all mistakes conspiracies. They insisted that the rest of the world was getting the better of America, and would continue to, because no other leader possessed the ability to fix every problem–instantaneously but without a single articulated solution–that they did. On the other hand, Hillary offered a series of hopeful policy prescriptions that might even stand the chance of one day being enacted. Hey, even Huey Long, courting the most backward segment of 30’s Louisiana with pure demagoguery, could finish a sentence without sniffing, interrupting, or proving from tangent to tangent to be thoroughly disoriented. A vote for Trump is like taking an advance on your future culpability. Six months into Administration Trainwreck, no one who actually thought America could be made great again by wearing a red hat, or that “shaking up the system” could be achieved by flogging it with rank vanity will ever be able to wash their hands clean.

 

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the start of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the start of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

 

Sean Beaudoin

About Sean Beaudoin

Sean Beaudoin (@seanbeaudoin) is the author of five novels, including The Infects and Wise Young Fool. His new short story collection, Welcome Thieves, is just out with Algonquin Books.
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