In Monsters, Inc, the monster economy is based on the screams of children.
In Monsters, Inc, the monster economy is based on the screams of children. Disney

As so many polls have made clear, this race is cemented. Trump is stuck with his base, which makes up about 40% of voters. Biden has a little room to move upward (he has 50% of voters but he can rise to around 55%), and he may indeed do that. But the thing you can be certain of is the debate tonight will have no impact on the outcome of this election.

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So, what's the use of watching it? The truth is not that Biden will stumble or seem sleepy. Anyone who watched his nomination speech in August knows the sleepy angle was a bust. And the enthusiasm angle was also a bust. America has had enough of presidential excitement. Four years of a president who never stops tweeting and appearing on TV is exhausting.

In fact, we can expect this election year that a good number of Americans will vote for Biden precisely because they want less excitement from the White House. The standard American life under Trump has been molded into a receiver for every little and big thing that happens to the president each and every day. Once, one could go weeks without thinking about Obama. For four years, we haven't gone without a morning, an afternoon, and an evening of hearing about Trump. And this is precisely why you should not watch the debate.

We need to start unplugging from Trump.


The only reason you are watching the debate is to see what will come out of Trump's mouth. It is not a political instinct that's drawing you to the debate, but a lurid one. I know this because last week I made plans to watch the whole thing. But the more thought I put into this decision, the more I realized that the investment of time and attention to the debate would amount to nothing more than one of the millions of screams that keeps the Trump economy turning.

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Recall, the brilliant 2001 animation movie Monsters, Inc. Recall the economy of the monsters, or, what Marx would call the society's "mode of production," which is the way it reproduces itself (or turns). The economic base of that society of monsters was the screams of children. The Trump economy works much like this. It runs on an attention that is not rewarded with facts or insights but rather one that anticipates the satisfaction of the lurid interest.

And the nonsense has already began:


We have over 200,000 dead Americans. We've had no time to even absorb this loss as a nation. Trump has made mourning impossible. We need to start unplugging from him. He is not going to win. This race is or will soon be locked; the room for maneuver or effectiveness of surprises (such as those emails) diminishes by the hour.

There will be no Supreme Court decision, or a way for the loser to refuse the results. This time, it will not even be close. So, now is a good time to begin our mental decompression from Trump. Tonight, read a book, or smoke a pipe, or watch the stars while they are still visible. Do everything you can to miss this and other presidential debates.

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