If Hillary Clinton wins she will be the first woman and the first former first lady to be president.
Her husband would be the first ever first man: but since he is also a former president he retains his title for life and would be known as Mr President. (I know, it sounds like an upmarket version of the Beverley Hillbillies!)
She would also be the first robot to win a presidential race. If Trump wins he would be the first certifiable fruitcake to occupy the Oval Office (the closest we’ve come to President Merkin Muffley from Dr. Strangelove). He, too, would be the first robot.
Because that’s what this race has become: Robot Wars. It’s a malfunctioning synthetic android from Westworld versus a particularly shrill Stepford wife.
None of us know how many screws are missing, how many programmes need to be updated; let alone who, if anyone, actually controls them. This is politics based on reality television: “I’m An Egomaniac...Get Me Into The White House.”
What they say doesn’t have to make sense, because their supporters hate each other with such intensity that they could never be persuaded to change their minds and vote for the other candidate. They could spend the third debate – due on Wednesday–just breaking wind and singing songs from Cabaret and it wouldn’t damage them in the eyes of their manic fans.
So when Trump accuses Clinton of having taken ‘performance-enhancing drugs’ before the second debate, his supporters whoop with delight; seemingly oblivious to the performance-enhancing rug he has worn on his head for a couple of decades.
When he says that “it’s smart” not to pay taxes, and to “use existing legislation” to squirrel away his own money through write-offs and allowing, on four occasions, his corporations to file for bankruptcy, his supporters whoop again; but again, seem to forget that this is what they accuse the Clintons and their ‘corrupt funders’ of doing.
Meanwhile, Clinton shrugs her shoulders when asked about the tens of thousands of work-related emails she has deleted and says it was ‘accidental.’ Every few months I go through my inbox and dump messages which are no longer relevant. It takes a while and yes, once in a while I accidentally highlight the wrong message for deletion. But it’s easy enough to recover from the trash folder. She managed to lose all of hers and all of the trails and links to them: not the sort of skill I think a president should possess.
She shrugs her shoulders again when her husband, during a live TV debate, is accused of rape, adultery and abusing women and doesn’t say one word in his defence. So how much else has she turned a blind eye to in the past? How good would her eyesight be if she was president?
She routinely describes untruths– the rest of us would describe them as porkies, whoppers and outright lies – as ‘misspeaks.’ When he’s caught out he responds with the line, “well, I was semi-accurate.” Their debates have resembled freak shows between a rattlesnake and a mongoose; fascinatingly grotesque encounters in which truth is the first, second and third casualty and where there is more focus on how Trump and Bill Clinton treated women than there is on America’s role in an ever-changing world.
Here’s my theory. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a clue what America’s role should be anymore. Increasing numbers of their support bases are tired of America having to act as some sort of international combination of policeman and bodyguard. They are tired of having to spend billions of dollars (at a time when their country is burdened with trillions of debt) bailing out countries around the globe and of taking the lead while other countries sit back and count the cost. Trump’s response is to bomb. Clinton’s is to negotiate and fund democracy/state rebuilding projects. But none of this has any particular impact on American people.
Americans like the Hollywood-fuelled myth that they are the best country on earth. They like the fact that American films, music, television, fast-food franchises have a huge presence beyond their shores. They like the fact that the While House and President are the best known sources of political power. They like the fact that America is the ‘most powerful nation’ on earth. But they also quite like the fact that they are mostly insular and isolated. They quite like the fact that they are hard to invade. They quite like the fact that their backyard tends to be safe.
That’s why 9/11 spooked them so much. And Donald Trump is a consequence of that. He plays to the fear. His campaign has been like one of those 1980s horror films – Nightmare on Elm Street, He Knows You’re Alone, Don’t Answer The Phone – in which audiences were terrified by the enemy in their own home. In Trump’s world anyone who isn’t a ‘regular’ American is a potential enemy: which makes just about anyone a potential enemy. Clinton, on the other hand, doesn’t address that fear at all – and it is a very real one – focusing, instead, on an international moral mission which doesn’t mean all that much, even to her own supporters.
Neither Trump nor Clinton is addressing the ‘moment of change’ reality which is facing America and Americans. But robots don’t have passion or emotion. They do what they are programmed to do.
And that’s what makes November 8 a very frightening day for America and the rest of the world.