The last debate in the U.S. election was the best of the year between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Hillary, as always, showed remarkable knowledge in all areas and was able to avoid both the insults of Trump and the pointed questions of moderator Chris Wallace. Worth noting were the frequent pinpricks that disturbed and distracted the Republican candidate, and the emotions involved in the response to his repeated attacks against women.
On the one hand, Trump showed self-control and discipline during the beginning of the debate. However, the debate represented a microcosm of his campaign and he soon lost that composure— praising Vladimir Putin and calling Hillary disgusting. If his mission to turn around his ratings in the polls was already difficult before the debate, it now looks to be impossible.
The proof is that the map of the Electoral College continually looks less and less friendly toward his campaign. While normally competitive states like Virginia and Colorado solidly fall to Hillary, Trump is forced to spend time and resources to defend states that have not voted for a Democratic candidate in decades, such as Arizona, Utah and Alaska. Even Texas, the cradle of conservatism and the Bush family, has appeared competitive in recent polls. Trump’s goal to reach 270 votes has become mirage-like, if not utopian.
And the entrepreneur seems to recognize this. That’s why, in recent weeks, he seems to be auditioning rather than running for president. The last few years have made it clear that there is a market, especially on the Republican side, for political celebrities. Former candidates, like Sarah Palin, thoroughly enjoy the fame and supporters gained during the campaigns that help them make fortunes and remain under the media spotlight. They write books, they give lectures, and they host TV and radio programs. They regurgitate the same speeches and, more importantly, the same attacks against the establishment. Like messianic leaders, they contribute further to the climate of radicalization.
Donald Trump has the potential to establish himself as the greatest post-election political celebrity of modern times. After years hosting ”The Apprentice,” this would be an easy transition for the entrepreneur, who does not need the money but seems dependent on the spotlight. With his platform, and with millions of loyal supporters won over the last year, he will have a megaphone to speak, or better, to shout, against everything that is done in Washington in the coming years, including against the leaders of his own party.
And in the home stretch of the campaign, Trump is already testing his words for effect. Why else refuse to admit that he will accept the results of the polls? Perhaps a tremendous inability to admit defeat. But consider that, had he admitted it, no one would remember, and this might have been his best debate. In already anticipating his loss and calling the election process into question, Trump ensures that the argument that he was robbed of the election will be repeated endlessly after November 8.
As the Republican candidate moves to ensure his place in post-election America, Republican leaders have also abandoned pretensions to regain the White House and have focused on protecting their majorities in the Senate and House. In the Senate, the concern is that Sen. Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire) and Sen. Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) might be pulled down after Trump’s defeat and, with them, the narrow Republican majority. This is because voters are choosing one party for president and the other for remaining offices less frequently.
As it stands, the Democrats would need an electoral landslide to win the 30 seats they need to regain the majority in the House. This is unlikely since the last redrawing of congressional districts in 2010 allowed the Republicans to control this process in most states and avert it. What is more likely to happen is the loss of some moderate Republicans, giving even more power to the radical wing of the party. It seems that Speaker Paul Ryan’s otherworldly nightmare will only get worse from here.
There is no doubt that Hillary came out of this debate victorious, just as she did in the last two. She will need a resounding victory, carrying with it the greatest possible number of Democratic senators and congressmen all the way to DC. She needs such a victory to minimize and discredit any claims of electoral fraud that Donald Trump will make. Another recount in Florida, like the one in 2000, would be disastrous in today’s political climate. On second thought, the one who really needs the complete and total victory of the Democratic candidate is North American democracy itself.