By Orlando Hawkins
Sunday night in St. Louis sets the stage for the second of three scheduled presidential debates. The format of the second presidential debate will be completely different from the first. The setting in St. Louis will resemble a town-hall style debate, where audience members are allowed to ask questions in addition to moderators, so one can expect both presidential candidates to be dealt with intense and unexpected questions.
Many political pundits and journalists anticipate that the setting and style of the debate will work in Hillary Clinton’s favor, given her experience as a politician. If Donald Trump’s performance in the first presidential debate, where he consistently interrupted Hillary and went off on incoherent tangents, is any indication of his skills on the debate stage, one can expect very much the same type of performance for the second presidential debate. In spite of an overwhelming consensus of political experts deeming Clinton the winner of the first debate, followed by a bad week in which news surfaced about Trump losing nearly a billion dollars in one year, his income tax evasion and as of late, his vulgar remarks towards women, one can expect this presidential race to remain close up until November, regardless if Trump loses the second debate. But why is this the case?
For starters, Clinton is not really up by much in the polls. According to the Huffington Post, Clinton is ahead by 5.1 percentage points nationally, while RealClearPolitics, has Hilary up by 3.5 points The second and more important point is that Trump supporters don’t care about the outcome of these debates. The Trump that viewers witnessed during the first debate is the same Trump that his supporters are attracted to. While those on the political-left saw a Trump who failed to answer simple questions and consistently went off on illogical tangents, his supporters on the political right (if you even consider them right-wing) witnessed an impassioned and angry Trump and it is this artificial passion and anger that many of Trump supporters identify with.
The bulk of Trump supporters are working-class people who believe that the government and the Republican party has failed them. The past two Republican presidential candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney respectively, focused more on corporate interest and military affairs as opposed to the domestic worker in the mid and southern United States. Trump is very much aware of this and does a good job at appealing to this indignation by attempting to point out the flaws of a governmental system that is in marriage with corporate interest and the uber-rich. This in part explains why his supporters essentially view him as the second-coming of Christ despite the racist, xenophobic and misogynistic remarks towards people of color, middle-eastern Muslims, and women.
If the laws of physics apply to politics, one can deem Trump and his supporters to push such laws past their logical breaking point. The traditional rules and norms of politics do not apply to a candidate like Trump because he transcends the political system. He is able to get away with things that have or would end the political careers of other politicians. If Hillary Clinton did anything on the scale that we have witnessed with Trump, Bernie Sanders would be the one on stage in St. Louis this coming Sunday because voters on the political-left would not put up with such a person.
Trump is nothing more than a reflection of his political base and supporters and the only way he’ll lose support is if his supporters have a moment of existential crisis when they come to terms with the prospect that America will never be Great under Trump or if they have some sort of moral inversion. The racism, xenophobia and misogyny witnessed by Trump is something he shares with his supporters and America has always had a segment of its population that has thought this way since the country’s inception.
So what can be expected on Sunday?
One can expect to see a calm, cool and collected career politician in Hillary at her best and one can expect to see the same Trump that appeared in the first debate. While Hillary will most likely be declared the “victor” Sunday night, this term is meaningless because of her inability to completely galvanize the political-left and because Trump cannot be constrained by the traditional rules of American politics. Hillary may gain more supporters but Trump will never lose his and this is why the race to the presidency will not be decided by scheduled debates but ballots instead.
Orlando Hawkins is a guest writer for The Systems Scientist, and is a philosopher who is interested political philosophy, existentialism and ethics. He spends his spare time playing basketball and video games. You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Facebook.
Photo credit: Darron Birgenheler
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