Hillary vs. Trump: Are you stressed/depressed enough?

This is the feeling, no? A strange and sickly sadness, mixed with undue stress, shot through with nasty reality check, as we face the very depressing possibility that there’s even a slight chance the Orange-Faced Sociopath could somehow lurch and bloviate is way through the first debate and get a few good, hateful “swipes” in against Hillary, a candidate 1,000 times his intellectual, political and ideological superior, which means he will somehow not be pushed back under the slimy, megalomaniacal rock from whence he came.

Do not misunderstand. Every presidential debate has its attendant anxiety, wrought of your fervent hope that your candidate will hold his or her own and get in a few poignant comments, policy statements and solid sound bites, even as a fair amount of his/her humanity and humor shines through. It’s a lot to ask, and it all invites a very weird kind of anxious, nerve-wracking melancholy. Hell, even Obama performed fairly terribly against Romney once or twice in early debates, before regaining his footing.

But as with everything this election cycle, this one feels – is different, largely because of the undeniable, world-stabbing fact that Trump is not merely one of the most disastrous presidential candidates in American history, but he’s also just a terrible human being, filled with easy cruelty and an endless reserve of taunts and bile, never once to be seen showing an ounce of genuine kindness or compassion.

She can handle the Orange Ogre, there is no doubt. But lo, it's an ugly time
She can handle the Orange Ogre, there is no doubt. But lo, it’s an ugly time

This is the question America has been wrestling with for well over a year: What is the exact opposite of joy, of peace, of decency and open-mindedness and intellectual acumen? Because whatever it is, Trump embodies it, thrives on it, sells it to you from an ethical used car lot and runs away laughing as you burst into flame.

Combine all of this with Hillary’s famously uneven, charisma-free media persona, her lack of easy quips and her occasionally clunky speechmaking skills – despite being in possession of a terrific intellect, genuine warmth and unparalleled political experience – and it all feels like a recipe for, well, who knows what. Not disaster, per se, but certainly something a little bit… queasy.

To say nothing of recent alarmism. Too many polls showing Trump somehow pulling near-even with Hillary in vital swing states, Hillary’s brief bouts with pneumonia being turned into a vicious troll fest, all of Hillary’s solid, often excellent policy ideas, plans and astute responses to national issues being ignored, as Trump effortlessly cons and abuses the media and backstrokes in pools of tabloid-grade phlegm.

It’s definitely a recipe for one thing: unprecedented national exhaustion. When this election is finally over, we will be collectively wrung out, burned and raw, like no time in political history. The snaggletoothed cancer that is Trump will have been eradicated from the national bloodstream, and we will be left shaken, dazed and grateful to be alive.

And, with any luck whatsoever, we will vow to never, ever let something like him happen to us again.

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