As with every comic book character and every critical event in this strange and dynamic election cycle, last Monday's first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has polarized the nation. While in year's past Republicans and Democrats could find common ground in these debates and agree that Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" comment was a blunder or that Ronald Reagan saying "oh there you go again" may have won him the election; it seems that this year, politicization has even infected debate analysis.
Even more peculiar is that reaction to the candidates' debate performances was not split down party lines; but rather split down a much more jagged and asymmetrical divide between the elite Washington beltway bubble people and the American people, alongside a growing underground network of populist journalists. Insiders from both the left and the right, from Bill O"Reilly and Charles Krauthammer to Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, agreed that Clinton easily won because Trump was belligerent and defensive. As such, CNN, the vanguard of America's dutifully responsible fifth estate, released a shock poll which had Hillary winning the debate 72% to Trump's 27% (it is worth mentioning that this poll sampled 41% Democrats and 26% Republicans).
Meanwhile, down here in America, Trump won the debate handily with nearly every shock poll (Minus the Clinton News Network) declaring him the winner. He won polls conducted by Time Magazine, Drudge Report, Breitbart, Right Scoop, Slate, Politico, The Hill, CNBC, CBS Philadelphia, USA Today, Daily Wire, Fortune Magazine, CBS New York, the Atlanta Patch, Variety, Politopinion, Fox San Diego, Heavy Magazine, Truth Division, The Cape Cod Times, ABC News, Hollywood Gossip, the Roanoke Times, the Washington Times, and the San Diego Union Tribune. But why should mere fact bankrupt a good narrative?
The pundits and journalists left behind by both party establishments who still believe in their obligation as truth-seekers agree that although Hillary Clinton won in a technical sense, Trump clearly won with the only metric that counts: votes. The reason for this disagreement between lawyer-pundits and citizen-pundits is very simple. To the bubble people of the bipartisan political establishment, living in Manhattan and Los Angeles, Trump's messaging fell on def ears. To the millionaire Fox News punditry aristocracy, the deafening absence of orthodox Republican talking points drowned out an otherwise disciplined and focused performance by Trump.
While he certainly missed opportunities to attack Clinton on her email scandal and other things, the most important refrain which will echo in the minds of rural and blue collar voters right up until election day is that Hillary Clinton has been in government for 30 years and has nothing to show for it. Those middle class Americans in Ohio and Pennsylvania struggling in a broken economy, those average citizens alienated by a feckless, cosmopolitan commander in chief, they don't care that Trump has said mean things to Rosie O'Donnell. They don't care about real estate arbitrage from the 1970s or Donald Trump's tax returns. Those people see a phony bourgeois political hack who has lived on the taxpayer's dime for 30 years and done nothing but take orders from globalist interests in exchange for bigger and higher paying desks.
A great anxiety has set in between our two thriving liberal coasts, for those Americans who still have to wake up before dawn to feed their families. They're not anxious about "institutional racism" or "criminal justice reform," they're worried that they might get stabbed by an ISIS operative in a mall on the weekend; they're worried that their jobs will disappear overnight because the TPP allowed their employer to relocate to Malaysia. The economy has not grown by more than 2% since this president has taken office, and the slew of terror attacks last week in New Jersey, New York, and Minnesota has made it difficult for anyone to swallow Democrat rhetoric that the JV team in Iraq and Syria is somehow "on the run."
This country is not stupid. Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again," has become iconic because it resonates with a people who see their country slowly slipping down the drain in nearly every measure. At the RNC Trump got it right when he said "I am your voice!" People have been fed up for years with this ruling political class which has used and abused their country for 25 years; even Obama got elected under the retrospectively disingenuous appeal for "hope and change." Hillary Clinton giggling and laughing and playing populist in her $10,000 outfit sent a stronger message to the people than any of Trump's scandalous off the cuff remarks picked up by NBC.
The optics of this debate communicated to voters that Hillary Clinton is the status quo. Without saying a word and then by saying many words she tacitly signaled that a vote for Hillary is a vote for four more years of that same dismissive arrogance and elitist contempt of our current administration. The pundit class calls it a lack of charisma, the people see that Hillary Clinton is a fraud. They see right through the New York Times hit pieces and Lester Holt's purchased gotcha questions and all the bread and circus which has done nothing but install Mitt Romney's and John McCain's to drown their constituents like the Titanic.
Hillary did look polished and she did check all the boxes for her talking points; but Trump hasn't turned this country upside down by compromising for the sake of conventionality. Each of his primary debate performances were universally panned by nearly every professional in news media and yet the Trump train only accelerated until he smashed through the entire Republican establishment in Cleveland and remade America's conservative party in his image. If CNN calls this one for Hillary Clinton and cites their crooked poll as evidence, we the American people accept.
As Alex Jones shouted, "we are breaking the conditioning!" CNN can take their polls and their opinions and they can put them on Hillary Clinton's website because we're not going to read them. We don't care what the globalist press has to say about the globalist administration anymore. The lawyers and pundits on TV who get paid to say words can run circles around us with their political science and law degrees about the rhetorical structure of Trump's argument; but the choice that faces America in November was made plain for all to see.
Trump, the brash patriot, the voice of change and for the restoration of the American nation or Clinton, the globalist shill, a political and physical zombie ruled by nothing but lust for wealth and power; It doesn't take a fancy suit or ironic glasses to see that. While Trump admittedly was on the defensive and perhaps too easily goaded into wasteful detours, he presented to more than 80 million people a viable presidential candidate in the place of the mainstream media's straw man caricature of him.
Come Tuesday, Mike Pence will eloquently and factually disassemble the intellectual case for Hillary Clinton and Trump will surely refine and deliver a knock out blow for his second bout. With Hillary Clinton's health still deteriorating and America's national security more frequently compromised, time is on Trump's side. New polling in Colorado and Pennsylvania suggest that Trump's electoral performance may greatly exceed expectations. If he can consolidate his gains, carry the enthusiasm, and continue to act presidentially, we will see a Trump White House this winter.