No Debate About It

Well, look at this!  It’s the night of the very first and very exciting presidential debate, in which Hillary Clinton, a woman who embodies the American ideal that if you want something really bad people should give it to you and not ask a lot of annoying questions, and Donald Trump, a pool of pizza grease that has attained sentience and is running for office for the ratings.  Experts — that is to say, people who raise their hands when someone asks if they are an expert on something — have predicted that this will be the most widely watched television debate in U.S. history, drawing in not only Americans, who are wondering whether to ally themselves with the millionaire class or the billionaire class in the upcoming election, but also foreigners, who are curious about whether the next president will consume the entire planet in a nuclear inferno or merely step up the aerial bombing of certain parts of it.

So if you want to be one of the ‘cool kids’ and sound really informed and smart when Vox and Five Thirty Eight tell you what your opinion should be tomorrow morning, we’ve prepared the following viewer’s guide to help you out.  When you’re done reading, you’ll be completely ready to choose a leader of the Western World based on an activity that attracted the most humorless, insufferable grinds when you were in high school.  Give yourself a pat on the back!


  1.  Find a comfortable place to sit during the televised proceedings, in case they run long.  The driver’s seat of an automobile heading through mountainous terrain at upwards of 80 miles per hour should do.
  2. Choose whether you would like to watch the debates through broadcast television, for which you will require paid digital cable access, or through streaming media, for which you will require high-speed wireless internet access.  Try not to think about how bad America’s internet is, or how the poorest people in the country will not be able to watch the debates.
  3. Make sure you tune in extra-early to catch the ‘pre-game’ portion of the debates, in which people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars to engage in objective journalism sit around and good-naturedly exchange platitudes and talking points written for them by the two political campaigns.
  4. Try and remember a time when the presidential campaign was not going on.  Recall that there will be two more of these debates, as well as a vice-presidential debate, and even after they are all over, the election will not be for a further three weeks.  Consider that in France, presidential campaigns generally only last 14 days.  Contemplate skipping the debates and drowning yourself in the nearest body of water instead.
  5. Imagine that there was an election to determine which person got to kick you in the face for the next four years, and how hard.  Think about what might compel you to take part in such an election, if you were offered the choice not to.  Write an angry article on the internet explaining why this scenario is totally different from our actual current situation.


Everyone loves a good presidential debate drinking game!  In this scenario, the pretense is that you take a drink of alcohol each time one of the candidates engages in some predictable behavior, repeats a stock phrase, or exhibits some tic or another.  This is fun because it lets us keep pretending that politics is a fun game, that we would not immediately die of acute alcohol poisoning if we actually adhered to the rules, and that we are even capable of having more than two low-ABV lagers in an evening without muttering incoherently about work and immediately falling asleep.  So here’s the rules to our 2016 Presidential Debate Drinking Game!

  • Take a shot of whiskey each time you think to yourself what complete fucking idiots most voters are without reconciling this to the fact that your reputed value system requires you to be vocal in your support of democracy.
  • Take a shot of bourbon each time you think about what an incredibly ill-suited candidate for the presidency Donald Trump is.  Take two shots of bourbon each time you remember that you are voluntarily participating in an electoral process so fundamentally broken that it only allows two people to run for president, and he’s one of them.  Take three shots of bourbon when you remember who the other one is.
  • Take a shot of tequila every time it is suggested that Donald Trump’s deportation plans are an outrageous affront to the American ideal.  Take two shots if you can remember that the current Democratic president has deported more people from the U.S. than any other president in history by a considerable margin.  Take three and go to bed if you’ve already read this.
  • Shoot yourself in the mouth with a shotgun shell full of rye if the Iraq War comes up in any context whatsoever meant to flatter the person who mentions it.
  • Take a shot of rum every time you get angry that journalists are not fact-checking the debates. If you think yourself innocent of any behavior that has lead to the impoverishment and general decay of the profession of journalism, make it white rum.  If you believe that you have neither the responsibility nor the capability of checking facts for yourself, make it dark rum.  If you take even a moment to consider the extreme difficulty of fact-checking, let alone how the same fact can be made to serve different purposes depending on who is reporting it and in what way, or that there is a difference between a fact and a truth, or that there is vastly more to leading a country than simply reciting the most facts or that knowing the facts doesn’t mean you understand them or have any idea about how to build policy around them, make it 151 and set it on fire first.
  • Take a shot of gin every time a candidate says something negative about the police, questions the need for a stronger military, discusses debt forgiveness or land reform or drug legalization, or suggests at any point that capitalism contains inherent flaws that cannot simply be reformed or corrected.  Or, if you prefer, take a shot of magical dragon’s blood extract, or of a potion that will make you invisible to the human eye and possessed of superhuman strength; the effect will be the same.


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