Did you think, after the second presidential TV debate last week, that democracy couldn’t sink lower? Well, think again. Tonight’s clash between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Las Vegas — already dubbed ‘fight night’ — looks certain to mark a new low for civilised politics, and a new high for elections as trash entertainment.
If you thought Trump and Clinton hurling insults about sex in the Townhall-style showdown in St Louis was grim, expect grimmer. If you thought Trump’s last pre-debate stunt of holding a press conference with the Clintons’ sex victim ‘accusers’ was silly, expect sillier. Trump appears to have all but given up on becoming president — understandably so, since the odds of him winning grow with every new poll. Now the Donald, his charlatan revolutionary commander — sorry, campaign manager — Steve Bannon, and his clever son-in-law Jared Kushner are scraping the bottom of their election barrel. The plan, as quite a few people have suspected all along, is apparently to launch Trump TV after November 8. Trump, because he doesn’t like losing, will presumably be pleased if people think his candidacy was a ruse in order to take on Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. What a business legend!
Trump has already suggested that Clinton should be drug-tested ahead of ‘fight night’, which is the closest he’ll come to admitting he lost the other two contests. And heaven knows what else he has in store? Perhaps he’ll confound everyone and deliver a scintillating performance in which he savages Clinton over the Wikileaks emails. But that’s doubtful. Given form, he’s more likely to do something attention-grabbing and stupid: bring out handcuffs and attempt a citizen’s arrest on Clinton, maybe. Or announce the advent of Trump TV as a giant ‘screw you!’ to the establishment networks.
It is a shame, however, that Hillary does not have to face a serious opponent tonight. The Wikileaks emails really are scandalous, as Damian and others have pointed out, and a talented, half-decent politician should be attacking Clinton for them. She is after all about to become the most powerful woman in the world, and she needs to be held to account. But instead we’re all still talking about the Donald and how awful he is.
The real loser on fight night, then, is us. It’s all very well, though, gnashing our teeth and wailing about our lobotomised society. The trouble is, as Douglas Murray argued last week, we are the problem. We’re all engrossed by America’s car-crash election. We’re all guilty of dumbing down. Almost all of us find actual policy dull, no matter how much we pretend otherwise — because it is. It’s much more fun to watch the Donald J. Trump show.