There has never been a time when the American tendency to judge by image over substance more than this presidential election cycle. Clinton who has substance is plagued by her public persona. Trump who has no substance possesses an image reminiscent of a train wreck that we can't stop looking at.
Clinton is clearly qualified to the do the job but suffers from an inability to connect with a public that is convinced she can't be trusted. Trump who has demonstrated he's not qualified numerous times enjoys the image of an outsider who will "fix the system" his supporter's blame for the problems in their lives.
What's missing seems to be a lack of interest in examining each candidate's qualifications for the highest office in the land. Rather, it's so much easier to simply look at their public images both literally and figuratively, listen to a couple of sound bites, read a tweet or two, and make a judgment call; shoot from the hip so to speak.
So why is this the case now? It's actually been this way all along. Those of us who are old enough remember the Kennedy-Nixon debates when Mr. Nixon did so poorly in the eyes of the public. He looked like a shady character with a sweaty upper lip and Kennedy looked like the superhero golden boy who could save the world.
No, our penchant for making decisions on image rather than substance is a fairly well-established process in the good ole US of A. So why write a column about it now?
This time, the guy who attracts our attention like that train wreck presents a public image that frankly scares the breath out of those of us who fear waking the underbelly of American society. The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, strong-man, fascist underbelly that we know has been there all along but never had the voice and the platform this man gives it.
Slowly, but just as surely, Trump is giving acknowledgment and by doing so legitimacy to some of the ugliest features of American society. The very features that so many have given so much, including their lives in some instances, to dampen them out of existence. Now because of this man's image, we are seeing a rise, almost an awakening, of a portion of our citizenry that should never be allowed a public platform in any civilized society.
Yet here it is and if it has done anything of value it has also awakened those of us who had hoped it was dead and not just asleep. I certainly can't predict the outcome of this election. Nor would I propose to know how you should vote. But I do have one recommendation. Investigate the facts being thrown around like pillows in a pillow fight. These are not pillows, they're bricks. And each time any candidate gets away with treating facts like harmless morsels of gossip in a cocktail party conversation, don't accept them at face value.
If you have a computer and access to the Internet you have access to the truth of every misstated claim, every twisted utterance, every feigned outrage. Check them out. All you need is the willingness and the interest to do so. If you don't you just might fall into a trap that isn't going to feel good when you find out you're one of the next group who isn't welcome here in their own home country.
Robert De Filippis