I didn’t watch the debate last night. The US presidential campaign has descended into such an all-out mudslinging contest that absolutely everybody is getting covered in mud – and it’s a bit of turn-off.
I did what I did at the last debate, and watched some of it with the sound off. Last time I just wanted to know whether Hillary would be sitting or leaning on something. And this time she began sitting about 20 minutes in. And Trump remained standing the whole time, as far as I could see. So Trump won the body language battle: he remained standing, and she didn’t. In this heavyweight contest, she ended up metaphorically on the ropes.
In the previous debate, which I scored as a Clinton win, she remained standing, and looked bright and smiling and confident. This time she looked tired and rather dejected.
And if forceful hand movements counted as punches, Trump threw a lot more of them than she did. He never sat on his stool, but he instead periodically retreated behind it, using it as a shield against expected low blows.
Worst of all for Hillary was that it seemed that a fly landed on her face at one point. That’s not good symbolism.
48 hours after the latest loud calls (some from within the Republican party) for him to step down and quit the race, Hillary Clinton probably expected to a beaten, dejected Trump to appear – if he showed up at all – merely to apologise for his latest gaffe and announce his withdrawal from the race. Instead he came out fighting, and it was Hillary who ended up looking beaten and dejected.
But the way I see it, this presidential election isn’t about these two people at all. It’s about two different visions of America’s future. And they’re the same two visions that were what the UK referendum Brexit vote was all about back in June:
Do you want your country to remain a sovereign state with its own borders and its own laws and its own currency, or do you want it to be dissolved into a new global political order where there are no borders, one single currency, and one legislature that makes one-size-fits-all laws for everybody on the planet?
It’s about identity. Do you want to carry on being you, whoever you are, warts and all? Or would you rather trade yourself in for a new personal identity, with a pretty new face, a slim new body, and a set of matching, sustainable, environmentally-friendly beliefs and convictions, all carefully designed by a consensus of the best experts in the top universities using the very latest computer simulation models?
If you want America to cease to exist, vote for Hillary Clinton. She’s already sold quite a lot of it abroad. And if you want America to remain as its founding fathers bequeathed it to its people, vote for Donald Trump. Everything else, including all the mud, is irrelevant.
And I think that, faced with that stark choice, Americans are going to vote for America, just like us Brits voted for Britain back in June. Why should anyone surrender something that they’ve fought and died for?
And it’s the same choice everywhere else in the world. And I suspect that we’re soon going to see the French voting to remain French, and also the Italians and the Spanish and everybody else voting to remain who they are.