Sept. 26 was a critical evening for the seemingly interminable 2016 presidential race, which, to the delight of world leaders and the American public alike, appears to be inching toward a cease-fire. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stood before the American people and provided illuminating insights into complex topics such as race relations, macroeconomics, foreign policy and the plight of the middle class – all in less than two minutes.
Families from sea to shining sea gathered ‘round their televisions to watch democracy spread her boundless wings and an air of tangible patriotism descended silently upon this great nation.
It’s a nice little fantasy, isn’t it?
On debate night, my roommates and I gathered in the kitchen to stress-eat mac ‘n’ cheese and watch the future leader of the free world be interrupted by an orange peel for 90 minutes. And let me tell you, watching that debate brought us closer together than the time our house didn’t have air conditioning for a week. In Miami. In August.
After a cold shower to wash away the feeling of “I can’t believe this is happening in our country” and a Google search for “Is Obama withdrawal real?” I understood why the debate irritated me so viscerally.
Clinton’s performance that night should have tipped the polls irreversibly in her favor and sent Republican leaders to her doorstep pleading for forgiveness. She appeared knowledgeable but not a know-it-all, thorough but not verbose, prepared but not rehearsed, sharply witty but not insensitive … you know, all the double standards to which women must comply before being taken seriously.
She knocked it out of the park. All the while, the Republican Party’s most dangerous basket case stood beside her, spouting acutely familiar rhetoric, floundering on the facts and shouting “Sean Hannity” as frequently as possible.
Alas, Clinton is currently polling only a few points higher compared to before the debate, and in very close contention with Trump. Talking heads on PBS are still questioning her “likeability” – something that men who run for president never have to be concerned with – and making snide comments about her pantsuit. Headlines blaming microphone issues for Trump’s bizarre performance circulated around the internet.
A woman who has lived her entire life in politics, who has served as first lady, senator of New York and secretary of state, can stand next to a fumbling narcissist and do everything right – and never really win.
Hopefully November will change that.
Mackenzie Karbon is a sophomore majoring in jazz performance. Here’s That Rainy Day, runs the first Thursday of each month.