Civil Obedience: Thoreau Meets Trump and Hillary

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bright lights shine upon Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who stand behind their podiums on-stage in the Harvard University auditorium. Henry David Thoreau sits at his desk on-stage. In front of him is a tabletop mirror that says, “I love transcendentalists,” in the upper-left corner. The crowd is well dressed and under the cover of darkness. Anticipatory silence pervades.


Clears throat.

Welcome to the 4th and final debate, I promise, of the 2016 presidential race. I’m Henry David Thoreau, and this is brought to you live by the Old Dead White Men News Network, or ODWMNN for short. The purpose of our news network is to examine how the old, dead white men whose writings you always hate to read would view modern times. Tonight, you get to hear from me.

I will ask a series of questions relating to my political masterpiece, Civil Disobedience. The candidates will each get as much time as I arbitrarily allow for them to respond. When their time is up, the candidates will hear what I experienced in my cabin in the woods so many years ago.

Thoreau presses a button to play the noise, pure silence. Trump looks around as if he is just now becoming aware of his surroundings. Hillary puts her cheek on her fist as her elbow rests on the podium.

The crowd, though I would never ask for them to conform to what society is asking of them, should please refrain from applause, laughter, or noise of any kind. All interrupting does is increase the amount of time I have to spend with these idiots on stage, as well as disturbing my inner peace.

Bernie Bro:

Yells out from the crowd.

You arrogant, self-serving jerk! Your ideas are everything that’s wrong with our society!

Security moves quickly to remove the disrupter from the auditorium, who continues to shout random, undistinguishable, nonsense on his way out.


Pauses for a second and takes a deep breath.

Now is not the time for civil disobedience… Okay, now for our first question. I will open this one up with Mr. Trump.

Trump shakes head as if breaking out of a daydream.

Mr. Trump, is it true that the government is best which governs least?



China is killing us on trade. They deflate their currency. Let me tell you. They deflate their currency, and all of a sudden, all our jobs are going overseas, believe me…


But Mr. Trump, the question had nothing to do with China. Really, I think this is a statement you can agree with in some sense. Government is at best an expedient, but in most cases it is an inexpedient, often liable to be abused and perverted, or as you say, ‘corrupted.’ Is it then true that the government is best which governs least?



The government that governs least is weak. Weak like Obama, our failure of a president. It’s his weakness that has made us lose to China on trade. A disaster. It’s weakness. We lose to Iran in the Iran deal. One of the worst negotiated deals ever. We lose to Mexico on immigration. They send us their worst. They send us their worst, and they expect us to pay for them. And we do. Because Obama is so weak…


But Mr. Trump, forget foreign policy for a second. Domestically, the government never of itself furthered any enterprise. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished. As a successful businessman, wouldn’t you agree?


Henry, I want to make America WIN again. Me. I want to make it win, okay? We can’t have people dying in the streets. And to stop that we have to be strong, like Putin. Not weak like Obama, okay?


Did you just praise Putin?


I’ve never met Putin. How could I know? But if we were friends, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.


Mr. Trump, the silence is playing. Your time is up.

Now Mrs. Clinton, the same question goes to you. Is it true that the government is best which governs least?


Takes her cheek off her chin and forces a smile.

First, let me say that Trump’s only form of ‘winning’ is taking home a girl who’s above a ‘9.’ Second, as senator and as secretary of state, I did the best I could to help the people of this great country…




I’m sure the fact checkers are listening closely here, Donald. You know what, you deplorable people can all go to, where I have all the facts checked for you. I promise you, they’re not lies. I have done everything I can to help the people of this great country. In fact, you could say I’ve done the most to help the people of anyone ever. I went to a women’s conference in China once…


You’ve done nothing.



Please, please, I can see this developing into a theme, but can we get back to addressing the question? Is the government best which governs least?


Rolls her eyes.

Henry, we have so many problems in this country. We have a struggling healthcare system. We have a burgeoning national debt. How will we ever fix these problems with a government that governs least? No, we need a government that does everything it can to help the people, like I did as senator and as secretary of state.


You did nothing. What got better? Nothing. All you did was make money for yourself and your establishment friends. Crooked Hillary.


I’ll have you know, Donald, and the fact checkers can back me up here, when we left the White House, Bill and I were dead broke. Really, it was awful. I really don’t know how I ever afforded this coat I’m wearing, which probably costs more than the mortgages of most of the people in the audience.



Clinton Foundation.


Puts on a creepy smile.

In conclusion, the government is best which governs a lot.


Almost yelling.

I have been playing the silence button for thirty seconds now…. Geez Louise, you people. I thought our politics during the Mexican-American War was bad… I have so many questions left to ask you two, but I’m just going to cut to the chase so I can retire to my cabin a minute outside of town.

Looks straight into the camera.

If you, the American people, think that your vote is going to save you from them… Just know, it’s all a game. Just a measly game.

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