Making America Fret Again


Making America Fret Again

Illustration: Rutuja Patil


think I am a fairly politically aware immigrant. I peruse online news, comment on hashtagged Facebook posts, and even click on tweets marked 1/N. I watched the first presidential debate. I dutifully shared a

video of Donald “Pussy Grabber” Trump openly boasting about sexually assaulting women smitten by his star status, and read avidly the emails published by WikiLeaks that exposed Hillary. So naturally, today, I was ready for presidential election debate Numero Deux.

I turned on the television two hours before the show. Look, you can’t just start watching a debate. A debate is like a sporting event. You have to first watch the pre-debate analysis, then check debate conditions such as the lighting, wall colour, seating, and taste the dull despair of democratic imperfection in the air. Also, it is necessary that you start drinking recreationally before the debate, so you’re ready for when you have to start drinking out of necessity during the debate.

An hour and thirty minutes before the debate was scheduled to start, the news channel I was watching announced a bombshell. Donald Trump was about to hold a press conference with the women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.

I had not even opened the first bottle of Sierra Nevada autumn brown ale. This brown ale, brewed from kiln-roasted malt and specifically designed to accompany you during chilly autumn nights, proved unequal to the challenge of addressing my discombobulation. As I struggled to quickly fill myself up with the inebriant fluid, The Donald materialised on the TV, sitting at a podium next to four women. As I watched incredulously, all four of them proceeded to announce their support for him, justifying it by claiming that they were angry with the spouse of his opponent.

It appeared that Trump had called upon four women to defend him from the fallout of his misogynistic video, the very same women he had called “unattractive” and “who made him vomit” in a 1998 interview on Fox News. This, Ms Morissette, is what irony looks like.

Back in the debate hall, the camera switched to the Trump family, all immaculately clad in designer suits and designer facial expressions. On the other side of the aisle Bill Clinton was smiling and talking to daughter Chelsea.

The candidates walked in, conspicuously withholding the customary pre-debate handshake and casual chat. Anderson Cooper from CNN and Martha Raddatz from ABC hosted what would go down in history as the nastiest debate ever. In the most awkward moment of an awkward evening, Anderson Cooper immediately zeroed in on the elephant in the room. “You bragged that you had sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”

In response, Trump said that he would destroy ISIS. A few more gentle proddings later, Cooper had finally managed to elicit a mumbled no to the question. Somewhere in a dark conference room, Trump’s lawyers collectively sighed in relief.

Next came Hillary’s emails. Martha Raddatz inquired as to whether Hillary would call her handling of the private emails careless. Which led to Trump asking Cooper why they weren’t bringing up her emails. And why they were ganging up on him 1 to 3. At one point, he even threatened to call his dad and that he would go fight their dads.

As the debate came to an end, with Trump and Hillary just short of pulling each other’s hair out, stepped in Karl Becker, the hero that a divided America needed on that dark night.

After the first debate, where Trump spent about a week complaining about his microphone, it was nice to see that they had chosen a better quality mic this time, one that picked up every single sound emanating from both candidates’ bodies. This included a constant sniffling from Trump and lip-smacking from Hillary.

The next question was from a Muslim woman who asked Trump how he would prevent Islamophobia if he were to become president. After Trump agreed that Islamophobia was a shame, he asked all Muslims to be more vigilant against fellow Muslims, thereby responding to a question about Islamophobia with actual Islamophobia.

The Republican nominee kept pacing all over the stage, seemingly photobombing Hillary during her statements. As if by force of habit, he once again delivered a barrage of inaccurate statements. And not content with the Republicans abandoning him, he seemed determined to even drive his own running mate away. Hillary alternately kept smiling and not smiling in order to pander to both the people who said she smiled too much and those who said she smiled too less.

The debate dragged on. Hillary made a Hollywood movie reference. Not satisfied with just defending Putin, Trump also defended Assad and Iran. When asked about why he was tweeting about sex tapes at 3:00 am, Trump responded with a glowing review of Twitter and added the words “not unproud” to the American vocabulary. (Last debate, he gave us braggadocious and bigly.)

When asked about why she was calling Trump’s supporters deplorable, Hillary clarified that she was actually calling Trump deplorable. Trump said Hillary was full of hatred. Hillary implied that he was full of shit. Trump said that if he was president he would jail her. Hillary said that if she were jailed she would easily break out like the guy in Shawshank Redemption. I mean, she should’ve. That would’ve been cool.

As the debate came to an end, with Trump and Hillary just short of pulling each other’s hair out, stepped in Karl Becker, the hero that a divided America needed on that dark night. With the final question (My question to both of you is, regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?), he brought some much-needed kindness to the vitriolic debate. By asking the “greatest question in debate history”, not all hope is lost to “Make America Great Again.”

Hillary replied that the best thing about Trump were his kids. He responded that the best thing about Hillary was her unwillingness to give up. The debate ended on this seemingly genial note. And though they did not shake hands at the start, the event finished with a handshake.

On the one hand, Hillary won the debate by successfully putting forth all her talking points and looking presidential. On the other hand, Trump won the debate purely through the lack of more lewd videos surfacing while it was underway. But the general consensus on Twitter was that America had lost.