I have to be honest: I could not sit through tonight’s presidential debate. Donald Trump is already a ghoulish creature that’s difficult to stomach in large doses and yet he somehow managed to outdo himself in being revolting. He spent much of the evening talking over and disrupting Joe Biden at every turn.
There was no moderating by Chris Wallace and not even much of a debate between Trump and Biden. Biden snapped back a couple of times, understandably telling the President to “just shut up, man” at one point, but to no avail.
The Democratic nominee didn’t produce any noticeable gaffes, but even if he did, it likely would have been eclipsed by Trump’s unhinged performance. I made it all the way up to Trump’s claims about bringing back football when I decided to check out.
I can’t sit here and tell you what good came from that exercise tonight. The debate was already going to be a challenge because one of the candidates lives in a world of alternative facts. What good is a debate when nobody tuning in can trust one of the participants to tell the truth? Donald Trump is a pathological liar who has exhausted any benefit of the doubt that the public or press should extend to him. The line about bringing back football?
Well, one president of a Big Ten member school came out and said that Trump did not influence their decision to restart play this fall. If he’s willing to lie about something so infinitesimally small, why would anyone trust what he has to say about reviving the economy, providing healthcare, or the myriad of other issues he has to manage as president?
I imagine that this debate went well for Trump supporters, especially those who get a hard-on whenever their fearless leader gets to act like a bully in public. It already looks like the Proud Boys, one of the right-wing nationalist groups that have pledged fealty to Trumpito, are taking his comment as a call to arms. We’re now at a point where violence at the polls is a real possibility, thanks in no small part to the commander in chief.
If the debate went well for Trump and his cultists, it was bad for everyone else. If you made it through the entire event, you are rightfully embarrassed for your country and likely a little ticked that you wasted an hour and a half watching it.
If you have a vested interest in our democracy continuing on for another few years or so, then Trump’s plans to intimidate voters and involve the courts he’s spent four years packing in order to obtain a favorable election result ought to be seriously disconcerting.
Rather than make an appealing case for four more years to the 230 million or so Americans who can vote, Trump has elected to follow the lead of tyrants and autocrats and steal the election. If Trump’s strategy works, we’re on a pathway to the sort of authoritarianism our country used to fight against.
If you are a leftist, I can understand you being disappointed that Biden could not come out stronger against law enforcement or support for popular plans like the Green New Deal or Medicare For All.
I personally wish he could come out in support of these policies, but get that his hands are tied as he attempts to make inroads with white moderates across the country.
At any rate, I imagine that widespread disappointment gave way to panic as Trump issued his call to arms for his nationalist supporters to poll watch, followed by a failure to condemn white supremacist groups.
If the President is going to use this platform as an opportunity to call for actions that threaten our democracy, it’s time to end these debates. Tonight’s debate did not give us any new information we did not already know about either candidate, so what was the fucking point of all that?