Once upon a time, there were debates every presidential election year. The candidates would meet on a stage, shake hands and have a civil back-and-forth, largely about the important issues of the day.
Now, however, Donald Trump can add this to his continued takedown of every tradition we once held dear in American politics, which used to be unique in the world, in that we would spend the better part of a year deciding what was important to us, our candidates would take a position on them and we could use those positions to decide which candidate was the best to run the Executive Branch of the government. Trump doesn’t like to tell anyone what he thinks about anything, of course. Oh, sure, he talks a lot, but everything he says is pandering to those who already like him for some stupid reason. For five years now, he has pandered to the lowest element in this country; people whose only political position is “liberals are bad,” and who have no real beliefs of their own, except perhaps that WASP-y white people are superior to everyone else.
The highlight of last night’s “debate” was when Trump was asked tp finally denounce and decry the white supremacists who make up a core demographic in his base, and he simply found such a thing to be impossible. He has decried racism and racists before. (Source) However, it’s been a while, and since he’s found himself way behind in most polls, he has apparently decided that he can’t afford to piss off anyone who might vote for him, which is why he couldn’t simply offer a condemnation of Neo-Nazis and/or white supremacists last night, with millions of them presumably watching.
There is a lot on the line with this election. From our point of view, the existence of our democracy is at stake. From Trump’s point of view, his power is at stake, and there is nothing he values more than power. Of course, his freedom may also be at stake, since the Justice Department has decided that a “president” can’t be indicted or tried for a crime, especially if his name is Donald J. Trump. It’s very likely Trump will spend the rest of his life fighting one criminal charge after another, once he’s out of office, and not even for the crimes he’s committed as “President.”
The entire debate last night was a joke. Trump didn’t answer a single question directly, and when he said anything, it was generally a lie (he’s passed 20,000 of those in less than four years), a deflection from facts, or an assertion that was nothing short of terrifying. The only thing he said that most of us in the category of truth-tellers could accept, even slightly, was that the violence at some of the protests was a bad thing. However, he blew it in two ways. First, he tried to dismiss the peaceful protests altogether, which is most of them, and he also tried to blame them on “left-wing groups,” which barely exist.
Trump also insulted Joe Biden’s son, and ridiculed Hunter Biden’s record of drug use and getting clean. No one should be able to do this, no matter what. And yes, I mean even Trump’s children should be off-limits, until such point that they become actively political. That means Ivanka, Donny, Jr. and Eric should be fair game, but Tiffany and Barron should not. No one should revel in the misfortunes of others and we should rejoice in a drug addict’s ability to get clean and become a productive citizen.
Another aspect of last night’s pageant was the continued controversy ver whether or not Trump will leave the White House quietly, should he lose. He spent the whole night, foreshadowing the “rigged” nature of the election and peddled numerous conspiracy theories about the possible results and their possible validity. Thankfully, as Biden pointed out, it doesn’t matter if he wants to leave or not; if he loses, his “presidency” is over at noon on January 20, 2021. Period.
While Biden wasn’t perfect, by any means – he responded to Trump far too often and didn’t quiet himself when it was clear no one could hear him speak because Trump was interrupting and talking over him – he at least attempted to move what little actual conversation there was to actual issues. Unfortunately, in a reelection campaign, one of the key issues is the record of the incumbent, so Biden was right to call him out on his record. The fact that he was critical of Trump’s record doesn’t matter, although “Shut up, Man!” while welcome, was probably not warranted.
Moving forward, if we’re going to hold up the tradition of presidential debates, we will have to maintain standards. Not only do both campaigns have t conform to the rules; there should be consequences if they do not. Every time Trump interrupted Biden, it should have cost his campaign somehow; maybe a $10,000 fine for each offense, with all money going to charity. I don’t know what’s legal. All I know is, no one learned anything about either candidate at last night’s spectacle, and that cannot be repeated.