It was just a few hours until the presidential debate and I was excited as a wound-up puppy dog in a room full of legs.

The hype had been unreal — it was like Mayweather versus Pacquiao all up in here — if Mayweather had triple-advanced super pneumonia and Pacquiao was a platitude-spouting bored guy with bad hair and a weird crush on Rosie O’Donnell.

It was all about entertainment value, not substance. Who was expecting substance out of this exchange? Is there anybody alive who still believes that Hillary Clinton has her own ideas on foreign policy or that Donald J. Trump is earnestly interested in crafting an immigration plan we all can live with?

Get a ride home bro, you’re drunk. No, this campaign is “The Running Man,” a state-sponsored, media-hyped event aimed at riling the masses like blood-lusting spectators at the Colosseum. It’s about inspiring passions so great, one side literally hates the other.

It’s working, too.

Think I’m exaggerating? Spend one minute on social media watching the two sides going at it like Wal-Mart shoppers on Black Friday. The people with the big blue H on their T-shirts absolutely despise those in the “Make America Great Again” ball caps. There is no earnest desire for intellectual discussion among them; there is disgust and disdain and incandescent rage.


The Clinton people are absolutely sure that Trump is going to bring about horrors not seen since the rise of Nazi Germany. The Trump people just know that Clinton is going to take all of our guns away and then turn the nation over to the communists, or possibly to Satan himself.

At least Mayweather fans could acknowledge Pacquiao’s incredible hand speed and the Pacquiao people would admit that Mayweather’s defensive prowess is second to none.

How much of that kind of mutual respect, however begrudging, have you seen among followers of this butt-ugly campaign? It’s hard to establish mutual respect when the media has gone completely tabloid, and all discussions seem to devolve into screaming arguments over which candidate most resembles Adolph Hitler.

It’s about division, baby, which I would suggest was the plan all along.

In the past year, I’ve seen lifelong friends become bitter enemies without ever leaving the comforts of their Facebook walls. I’ve seen people disown their own brothers and sisters, and all of that nastiness for what? A pair of candidates who claim to be rivals but who undoubtedly work for the same oligarchy?

I was excited about the debate, not because I expected to see the future of America being shaped in real time, but because so many of YOU were excited about it. You were talking about Him versus Her as if it was the Super Bowl, “The Walking Dead” season premiere and “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults” all rolled into one life-changing, winner-take-all super-bout that would do nothing less than foretell the future of humanity.


People who normally eschew politics got sucked into it like dust bunnies into the mouth of a Hoover. There were just so many questions that had to be answered, weren’t there?

Would Clinton wear one of her sneaky little earpieces? Would she be able to stand for 90 minutes or would she collapse like a rickety old scarecrow on national television?

Would The Donald call her out on the email scandal? Question her health? Invoke the specter of Benghazi? Or would he just refer to various things as “yuge” and tell us one more time about the many joys of the police state?

People are engaged this campaign season, all right — but for dubious reasons. A good chunk of them are not interested in seeing their candidate win as much as they are in seeing the other candidate lose. It’s the lesser-of-two-evils philosophy and since there is little of substance being offered, someone has gone to great pains to make sure there is plenty of titillation.

Would Mark Cuban sit in the front row to agitate Trump? Would Paula Jones be on hand to serve as a reminder of the messy Clinton past? Did MMA rules apply or was eye-gouging allowed?

It all sounded like fodder for “The Jerry Springer Show,” but we the people ate it up, because what’s the alternative? Keep crying over Bernie? Try to keep a straight face while suggesting that Johnson might be an option?


The American presidential election has developed into such a cartoonish joke, it’s at least very easy to make a drinking game out of it. Plenty of people were prepared to do just that as the much-ballyhooed debate drew ever closer Monday night.

“If you take a drink every time Trump insults somebody,” one wit advised, “you’ll get alcohol poisoning.”

“If you take a drink every time Hillary lies,” suggested another, “you’ll be dead in the first five minutes.”

Bread and circuses, friends. It’s what Roman leaders fed the people to distract them from the fact that the world was about to cave in on them. I like to think I’m above it by now — but come 9 p.m., there I was, tuning in to the debate just like every other yutz in the land.

What can I tell you? It was morbid curiosity. If a world-ending asteroid was headed our way, I’d probably watch that, too — right up until the moment my eyeballs were boiled out of my head.

Which, I suspect, would still be easier than it was to watch 90 minutes of Hillary versus The Donald. I made it the full hour and a half, but I’m here to tell you, brothers — I think part of me died.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer and a shrewd political analyst, bro. Email him at

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