Those planning to vote for the next American president have for quite a while now been aware of the views of the main candidates. After a year of non-stop media attention on those views, it is obviously a very unlikely reality that debates matter when it comes to debating politics. At this point the only people who do not know the views of the main candidates are people who are simply not interested and therefore extremely unlikely to vote.
At this end-stage the debates are all of sudden thrust upon the public as if they will determine something about the candidates that the voting public doesn't already know. But that is not true and the Democrats know it. What that first debate was really about was their attempt to diminish respect for Trump's character, rather than his politics. While there was a pretense of an ideological or political debate, the meat of the "debate" was in trying to diminish respect for the individual character of Trump. Therefore the media concluded Trump lost because they thought he was unable to defend himself from the attempted shaming. "He lost the debate" meant that Trump came off as a bigger schmuck than Hillary. In their opinion he was not as good at demeaning the character of his opposition as she was. That is what passes for political debate this 'Year of The Monkey,' where throwing crap has replaced ideological debate.
What was Trump's response to the incessant attempt to diminish his character? It was the same as in the past. He either lies about things he has said or done in the past, or insists it doesn't matter. "It is good business to take advantage of the housing market crash" he tells us while Hillary gets to act the finger wagging scold. Never mind the cause of the crash or the response to it by the Democrats in power - or Hillary's part in all of that. All that matters is that Trump is the type to take advantage of the situation to make money - that is a moral failure and nothing else matters folks, right? Never mind the men with sacks of gold who pay millions of that pirates booty into the Clinton's treasure chest in order to get them to come to their "moral" gatherings to pet them while cooing into their ears "it's all right honey, everything is fine (as long as the checks keep on coming)."
The idea of the "judgment" of the candidate has never before been such a central part of campaign propaganda. To listen to the debate one would think you could replace what they said with "your momma" jokes and nobody would notice. All the Democrats and their media cohorts are doing is trying to make Trump seem like a schmuck. This is why when covering the debate the media focuses on the same exact things they have been focused on for months on end - the personal foibles of Trump. The Democrat campaign has turned into a reality TV show like The Housewives franchise. They rely on vicious fighting over petty personal issues for ratings.
Trump tries to make it about issues, but he has no recourse when the Democrats and the media wants to make it about his character, so he feels he has to fight back and tries to do the same thing to Hillary. He knows he is going to come off looking like a schmuck if he doesn't fight back on the level of discourse the Democrats want - but he ends up having to defend personal attacks with denials, lies, obfuscation and so on if the Democrats can control the forum. Those opposed to him therefore think he "lost the debate" if they think he didn't respond and fend off the personal attacks as well as Hillary did. They are like deluded crowds at professional wrestling cheering for their chosen hero as if who they support in the match is based on reality. Trump supporters do not really care enough about his character to change their support to Hillary. They want change and Hillary represents more of the same as Obama or worse.
Democrats and the media in their corner know that, which is why they are desperately playing the Russia card. That pathetic Hail Mary is trying to make people question Trump's patriotism. It will fail because Trump's campaign is all about "America First." Therefore it is ludicrous for the Democrats to try to make him seem un-American based on Russia while he is incessantly painting them as internationalists more concerned with political-correctness than American concerns. It shows a desperation in their thinking to try to paint Trump as part of a Russian conspiracy which only the dimmest of dimwits will believe. They have the numbers on their side, therefore all they need to do is get their people out to vote. But with the way they treated Sanders - the response from his following has them scared. Which is they are throwing everything they can think of at Trump regardless of how crazy it looks. Which is why their cohorts in the media have been so relentlessly awful ever since the conspiracy by the DNC for the end of Sanders angered so many on the left, along with angering many independents.
The Democrats and the media are hoping to make the election about character and nothing else. They know that their policy positions are for the most part deeply disliked by most Americans. The only people who were enthused by Clinton over Sanders, besides those who urgently want a woman president and any woman will do, were people who lacked an in-depth understanding of what Clinton and Sanders stood for. They are the type of people who take the mainstream media at their word; the type who take the Democrat narrative of the world as an honest-to-god reality instead of what it really is - mostly lying propaganda meant to advance the causes of the elites.
The people who watch CNN and MSNBC and think "yeah, you tell em guys" are the Democrats and left leaning independents who didn't support Sanders. With that level of political engagement from most people on the left or center, i.e. those who rely on mainstream media for their worldview - it is no wonder that Sanders lost. It is no wonder that what passes for an informed electorate being given a chance to decide the honest issues - turns out in the end to be mostly crowds of hypnotized people on the right or left. That enables the demagogues who are being foisted upon them by advertisers, political consultants, and professional propagandists, to get their support - instead of the people who are actually on their side.
What hope is there in the present system for reform? The current election cycle is over. Whoever wins, the people lose. Next time will not be the same. The internet and the independent information it provides is gradually changing the voting landscape. 10 years ago most people on the left were fooled into thinking Obama stood for real change even though his political platform was not really different from Hillary Clinton. That didn't happen this time. Even though the mainstream media remains the same corporate propaganda outlets in support of the Democrats, the internet is overtaking the media landscape as time goes on. That made Sanders possible and Clinton face the problems Obama didn't run into. It is why Trump has ascended on the right. Fox News and the other mainstream right-wing media wasn't enough to stop the alternative-right internet information sources from taking over. First with the Tea Party, and then with Trump, the main narrative for the right has been gradually taken away from the mainstream right media. The left is taking a little longer because it is a much bigger audience, but by next election we will see a similar situation for the Democrats.
This time Sanders almost won, and next time with a credible candidate it will be all over for the establishment Democrats. They will not give in easily. They will seek to stop the inevitable leftist tide from coming in to shore like they did with Sanders. But as they like to say - they will be on the wrong side of history. The promise of the '60s radical social revolution is coming into power in the next election cycle. What we are witnessing is the last dying embers of the old Democrat power base. Their reliance on the mainstream media playing to an ignorant gullible audience is no longer going to be enough to keep them in power. The GOP is over for the time being. Trump is the end for them for the foreseeable future - whether he wins or loses - the GOP loses. He has radicalized the growing Latino voting base against the GOP. They cannot come back from that anytime soon. And with the demographic changes of the youth and elderly, the GOP is toast - so pump out the jams!