Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On What the Undecided See

I watched the debate last night in a loud bar, so it was hard to follow the drama. From my perspective, Hillary Clinton looked poised and controlled and Donald Trump looked petulant. When I watched some of the highlight clips, it looked like a knockout to me. But throughout the debate, I was trying to get in the head of someone who hasn't made up his or her mind. 

What did I see from the perspective of at least one kind of undecided voter? That Trump may have been funny and self-deprecating when he joked about not paying taxes, and you know what, taxes suck. That Clinton should stop talking about being a woman and should start talking about being president. I mean, why does she have to talk about being a woman all the time? That Clinton decided to go negative first, so what was Trump supposed to do? Of course he had to interrupt her. I see a woman who spent a little too much time before the debate coming up with unnecessary mean-girl zingers. 

My Facebook friends, real friends, and I read books that don't show up on bestseller lists. We know that history books written by news anchors are hilariously bad. We talk about "Better Call Saul," while the rest of the country watches "Blue Bloods," which we haven't heard of. We supposedly have a firm grasp of what public discourse is supposed to sound like. (Judging by the Bernie-Hillary debates on my newsfeed, we don't.) We know the definitions of "mansplaining" and "privilege." We spend a lot of time reading the news online when we're supposed to be doing our important work. We are able to see what lies behind stereotypes of race/gender/sexuality/national background, partly because we went to colleges which taught us to look behind stereotypes. We know not to tell jokes about the mentally disabled...oh, wait a minute, sorry, but we don't. Be honest. You know all the Trig Palin jokes. Because, in your heart of hearts, you value intellectual ability above so much else. 

In the past year and a half, I've learned that I know very little about this country. If you think the debate was an obvious "win" for Clinton, I hope you know more than I do.

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