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10/2/16

USA Presidential election: A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce - by Andrew Levine

Presidential elections are a spectator sport.   A well-known cliché likens them to horseraces.

Horseraces are more interesting, however.

This is why the people who pay the most attention are inveterate obsessives – “political junkies,” according to another cliché.

But in much the way that interest in horse racing picks up on Kentucky Derby Day, interest in presidential elections picks up when the candidates “debate.” The scare-quotes are appropriate because their debates aren’t much like the genuine article; they are more like joint campaign appearances.

There have been a lot of them this electoral season.

Republican aspirants for their party’s nomination debated over and over again.   Towards the beginning, more than a dozen or so of those dunces would be on display at the same time – with yet more of them, those who didn’t make the cut, waiting, as it were, in the wings.

Were the contenders not so well groomed, it would be apt to call the result a series of freak shows; or, were their debates better executed, to refer now to The Goon Show or the Three Stooges.   The sensibility was much the same.

Trump “won” the debates by stealing the show each time.   But his hectoring got old fast. Before long, all but diehard Trump diehards therefore lost interest. There wasn’t even a Sarah Palin around to lighten the mood; there was only Trump.

The Democrats’ debates were different because, on the Bernie Sanders side, there was some genuine political organizing and consciousness-raising going on; and the debates were part of the process. It would have been more satisfying had Sanders gone, Trump-style, for Hillary’s jugular, but at least he did oppose her for some of the right reasons.

For an audience accustomed to hearing only the hard right’s case against the Clintons, this was eye opening.

Read more: A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce

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