Politics in the Age of Digital Reproduction

I am typing this as a I watch the first Clinton – Trump debate.  I’m excited about this one.

The thing is, I have seen these two people for the past year. I’ve heard all they are going to say at one time before – on Youtube, on C-Span, or any media outlet.  Trump will talk about bad trade deals.  He will blame China and Mexico.  He will say something senseless, but it will sound good and people will cheer.   Clinton will say things in a technocratic way that is unmemorable but sounds legitimate and makes you want to nod in agreement.  She will try to say something rousing and inspiring and it will fall flat.

Image from Slate

Image from Slate

There is really nothing new to see here.  This debate will provide little information of substance to those who have been following their campaigns.  I already know their presence on camera and conversational ticks.  I’ve already made my decision about their personalities.  I like Trump’s.  I know he is a businessman and all, but I can imagine him being the profane police chief in a TV crime drama.  “G-ddammit Jenkins!  Where the hell have you been?  Gimme your badge!”.  But I don’t like Clinton’s.  Her voice, mannerisms, and fashion choices reminds me of a loan officer working in a sleepy southern bank.

They can’t tell me anything about their fiscal or economic policies that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and so on have not already summarized, sliced, and diced.  What they can reel off in two minute statements in a debate is really nothing.

The original function of a debate is gone.  The “awe” of seeing a candidate perform and take on their supreme authoritative role of commander-in-chief is gone.  The “majesty” of politics has eroded.  We don’t get a kick out of seeing these people on stage anymore.  There is no “anticipation” of hearing what plans they have for the country.

This is politics in the age of digital reproduction.   The aura that was once an inherent characteristic of the political process is gone.