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To quote Mark Singer of The New Yorker, Trump has achieved something remarkable: “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”

Last night— at Hofstra University on Long Island—was the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the 2016 election. It’s too bad we can’t call what happened a debate.

This morning I began the day volunteering in the school garden at the high school where my friend John teaches. As he and I waited for students to show up, of course the first thing we talked about was the mess between “Hillary” and “Donald” so poorly moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor, Lester Holt. My husband said Lester needed a switch and I agreed because I thought he meant the kind my mom used to pull from a shrub in the back yard to bring her wrath down on our legs when we misbehaved. But no, he meant a switch to mute Donald’s mic. If only. What Lester needed was to use his words to stop Trump from highjacking the debate.

John listened to about half the debate on the radio; said he couldn’t stomach the rest. I like his take on it:

“It was like being in a giant dysfunctional family and listening to your parents fight.”   – John Sanderbeck

Thanks John. That’s a perfect analogy for the anxiety and disgust I felt as we watched the debate. I felt ashamed, too, that the world was watching—the same way I’m sure a child feels knowing the neighbors can also hear their parents fighting. And then there’s the feeling of powerlessness.

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Luckily, we do have power. Just as the  child can pick up the phone and call 911, we can vote. As Shonda Rhimes says in her book The Year of Yes; “power isn’t power if you don’t know you have it.” This became clear to me later when I ended the garden time chatting with two boys, both seniors. One of them, Jake (not his real name), will be 18 in five months and I commented on how he’ll be able to vote, too bad he can’t vote in five weeks. He said he wouldn’t vote anyway because he doesn’t like either candidate. Of course he’s not alone; far too many young people share his sentiments—and hence, are not aware of their power!

“I don’t know how we ended up with these two,” Jake said, and I thought, how did we end up with young folk feeling this way about voting??

Josh went on, “it just proves that anybody who’s rich can run for president. That’s why I don’t like our system. I think it should be that only smart people can run.”

“Then we wouldn’t have a democracy, ” I said, “what we need is smart people voting—and not just for president; for mayors, police chiefs, city council and school board members, superintendents, etc. Otherwise those not-smart people end up making decisions that effect us all.”

That seemed to resonate with Josh. I sure hope so. Here’s the thing: all of us who know better need an effective elevator speech for people (especially the young) with this apathy toward voting. If you have a good one, please share!

Way back when the campaigning started and Trump hit his stride as a hyper racist-sexist-fear monger, I said to the people closest to me, “He’s got to be working to get Hillary elected in his own whacked out way”. I’m sure you are smirking and shaking your head the way everybody does when I say this. Nevertheless, it was the only way I could reconcile his existence in the race. And guess what…I’m sticking to my sick theory. It makes about as much sense as anything else that’s happening.

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