Editor’s Note: This article contains profanity.
The tall, rotund man on viewers’ left side of the stage walked out somehow looking both wan and ruddy. He fidgeted intensely during the opening moments, his red eyes often fixed into a squint with pouting, pursed lips. I imagined his knees weak, palms sweaty, and maybe if we were lucky, we’d see him vomit up mom’s spaghetti.
The short, well-primped lady in white on the right side of the stage smiled often. Her motions and responses were impeccably executed, even if she seemed a bit stiff at the elbows sometimes. She’d done this before, and it showed. Wall Street had sent her their very best coaches.
I first want to offer some congratulations to us as an audience at the conclusion of this year’s third (and last!) presidential debate. Not at any point in my lifetime has so much been endured by so many for the benefit of these unscrupulous few.
Pour a drink. Take a deep breath. We’ve survived.
On some level, all of the above has been more dignified than the exchanges we’ve been submitted to this election cycle.
Oh no, my bottle of Jameson is empty.
Our presidential election this year has come down to a contest between a man who claims to have “a very good brain,” though deep down, I’m sure he in fact wishes he had a brain at all, and a woman who’s so stiff and rehearsed you sometimes wonder whether she’s an actual person.
In short, our presidential nominees this year fairly well approximate the Scarecrow (Trump) and Tin Man (Clinton) from The Wizard of Oz. They came together one final time before election day this evening to vituperate and throw kitchen sinks at each other.
It was… fun?
We’d seen in the two previous debates that Trump could actually perform well when sticking to the topics at hand, duly criticizing Clinton and keeping his cool. Clinton could gain the upper hand by baiting Trump with any number of his offensive comments and casting him in an unavoidably negative light.
At first, it looked like this might actually be a substantive debate. Clinton and Trump took part in well-executed discussions on things like the Second Amendment, Supreme Court, abortion, etc.
And then came the issue which has perhaps served as the cornerstone of the 2016 Trump campaign—immigration. As expected, Trump went on his usual riff about immigrants driving up crime rates in major cities like Chicago. “We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.” He declared.
The Trump campaign had come full circle. Or maybe it just never went anywhere at all, really. The man who launched his presidential bid denouncing Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers stood onstage at the final debate of this campaign once again singling out Hispanic immigrants.
But what else is new, right? We all had some idea of what we were getting ourselves into when we sat down to watch this damn thing.
The main bombshell of the debate was dropped a few minutes later. Moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he would accept the results of the election, even if defeated.
“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.”
Fuck. Why is my whiskey gone?
Of all the outrageous things Trump has said, both on the debate stage tonight and in general, this is among the most heinous and sinister. Our 240-year experiment with democracy in this country has depended without exception on losing candidates’ ability to accept the will of the people in elections. Anything to the contrary is not democracy as we know it.
Everything else that occurred on the debate stage paled in comparison to that moment.
Yes, Trump boldly declared that the nine women who’ve recently come forth to accuse him of groping or unwanted advances are all liars. Yes, Hillary was in-depth, if clearly calculating. Yes, we all laughed when Trump said, “No one respects women more than I do.”
A plethora of misdeeds and horrendous words should have long since disqualified Trump for the presidency.
We’ve known for months he is unfit for this capacity, but his reluctance to acquiesce to the popular sovereignty of our citizenry makes him a de facto existential threat to our republic and our way of life.
The rest was fun. Sort of. Not really. I’m sure as hell glad it’s over.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey on Flickr.
Horus Alas is a senior philosophy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.