u.s. politics | October 11, 2016

We Yearn for More Nuanced Conversations: Rich Benjamin Responds to the 2nd Debate

With the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton now behind us, we turn to expert commentators to understand the cultural and political fallout to come. In a Lavin exclusive, Searching for Whitopia author and TED Speaker Rich Benjamin shares his thoughts on the “spectacle” and “lack of substance” he has observed throughout this campaign, and debate—but also on the new hopes (for women, democracy, racial equity, and deeper dialogue) that might emerge from it.

Benjamin writes:


“Many of this country’s substantive fears are flaring up ‘sideways’ in the anxious tone of our presidential campaign.  


The recent presidential debate displayed a sad day for our politics to plunge so low. Tension brimmed with venom and bickering. Women, literally and symbolically, were used as props, during the vitriol. I could not imagine Jefferson, or Lincoln, or either of the Roosevelts—nor Obama—on that diminished stage. Trump and Clinton cut a more dramatic difference between outlook and temperament than we’ve seen among candidates in generations. Trump baited the gloomy mood of the nation. Clinton consolidated her appeal among college-educated voters.


Fascinating, pained irony: On one hand, social media blow up during the current debates, demonstrating their sensationalist entertainment “value.” On other hand, voters lament a lack of substance, shouting their concern for our country’s future. How do we square that circle, that Catch-22? Many American implicitly appreciate the spectacle, even as others resent the lack of substance.


The media claim how polarized this country is, but my travels and ears tell me differently: People yearn for deeper, more nuanced conversations, beyond tired polarities. Yes, the debates are polarized and polarizing. But even as politicians flounder, communities churn with new ideas for sparking economic prosperity, bolstering our democracy, pushing gun safety, boosting women’s wellbeing, improving our racial empathy gap—in short, sparkling shards of political hope.” 


Rich Benjamin also sat down with France 24 yesterday to help ‘translate’ the US election for a foreign audience. And, for the Republican nominee, he didn’t spare his words. Watch Benjamin in the short clip below:



To book author and political speaker Rich Benjamin for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive keynote speakers bureau.

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