I did not watch the third and final presidential debate of 2016 (though I did check out some of the comments on Twitter while it was going on). I may be a Metsochist, but I'm not a masochist. Besides, why stay up late and put yourself through 90 minutes of mental torture when you can spend just five reading Alexandra Petri's (way more entertaining) recap or wait for the (again more entertaining) Alec Baldwin-Kate McKinnon version of the debate on SNL this weekend, hombre?
Even before going into the third presidential debate, most people's (everyone's) minds were made up -- and pretty much nothing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would say was going to change that.* Even Donald Trump refusing to say if he would respect the outcome of the election -- despite the horror expressed by every mainstream news organization at that statement. (And no, the suspense is not killing me.)
(Seriously pundits, you really think people who have no problem supporting a questionably rich guy who brags about not paying his taxes and assaulting women are going to suddenly change their minds about Trump because he would not unequivocally state he would respect election results? Which election have you been following?)
So, I am not writing this to change anyone's mind. (See the asterisk, below.) But I did want to share some thoughts, or observations, about this election.
1. Those surprised by the rise of Donald J. Trump either slept through the last 50 years or were not paying attention to politics. Trump is the product, or by-product, of years of political demagoguery -- the bloated, orange, short-fingered, small-minded embodiment of everything bad and hateful about America.
2. Facts don't matter any more. A lot of people don't even know the difference between facts and opinions. As someone whose first job was as a fact checker -- and was taught in school and as a journalist and editor that the truth and facts were paramount, I find that deeply disturbing. (Oh, and for those who say it's hard to ferret out the facts in this election, no it isn't. Just go to PolitiFact or FactCheck.org.)
3. Civil discourse is dead. It's been dying for years, I know, much like fact checking, but this election may have been the final nail in the coffin.
4. If Donald J. Trump receives more votes than Hillary Clinton, then yes, I will believe the election was rigged.
*For anyone interested in the neuroscience behind why and how people make up their minds and why some (most?) people will never change them once made up, even when facts contradict their beliefs, read Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To by Dean Burnett. It is both entertaining and enlightening. Also see "confirmation bias" and "cognitive dissonance," the two reasons I stopped arguing with people about politics (and religion) long ago.
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