By Dalila Da Silva Lopes
After months of elevated racial tensions and continuous protesting against systemic racism and police brutality, over 200,000 COVID-19 related deaths, and more than 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic, the American people are yearning for leadership, yet on Tuesday night, they turned on their tv’s to watch the first Presidental Debate and witnessed the dumbing down of the American political process in real-time which will have real consequences for years to come.
How many of you cringed? How many of you had to switch channels, and how many of you just simply had to turn it off? What we witnessed Tuesday night was a President who has very little understanding, or perhaps overt disregard for this country’s current racial climate.
Chaotic, disappointing, uninformative, frustrating, irrelevant, are just some of the words many Americans used to describe the first Presidential Debate; a testament to America’s decline in public and civic discourse.
When directly asked to denounce white supremacy and condemn militia groups who have incited violence in American cities, Donald Trump refused to do so. Instead, the President of the United States did what he does best, stoke violence and sowed division, reported CNN.
In what was essentially an endorsement, the President told the far-right Neo-fascist male-only organization, Proud Boys, to “…stand back and stand by”. This generated a swift outpour of headlines and tweets criticizing the President’s statement.
In what seemed to be a complete train wreck, the first Presidential Debate was another clear indication of America’s decline in leadership. To summarize, the debate was highlighted with incoherent cross-talk, constant interruption, personal attacks, and no political decorum. It is difficult to predict how much Tuesday’s debate will move the electoral needle, given that 90% of voters have already made up their minds.
Trump’s strategy was to attack and double down on his base, with no attempts to appeal to the middle and Vice President Joe Biden not making a compelling case for his election either. Biden noted that he is not for the Green New Deal, nor for defunding police. It is certainly hard to say who was the clear winner. However, there was a clear loser, the American people.
This first debate underscored the deep need for policy reform. Both leaders appear to lack innovative ideas, solutions, and effective plans for the American people, who are experiencing unprecedented crises.
Following Tuesday’s debate, the far-right group Proud Boys were seen on social media celebrating Trump’s word. By the President refusing to condemn white supremacy, he further reinforced the worst form of white nationalist and white supremacy politics, speaking directly to the core of his base of support, further energizing them. Many referred to his words as a dog-whistle, which is defined as a coded politically motivated message to a particular group.
While those on the left pick up on the hidden racist messages in the President’s words, the ostensible target group is taking his words literally.
Trump’s rhetoric is past the dog whistle phase, the connotation in the President’s words are not hidden nor suggestive, they are direct and quite obvious. As they have always been. His words, quite frankly, should not come as a shock or a surprise. We are talking about a President who came into power precisely because of his incendiary, racially offensive, and divisive language.
Are we still expecting decency and morality from a President who has for the last 4 years proved to be indecent and immoral? What we saw on the debate stage was just another play, straight out of Donald Trump’s book.
Trump also repeatedly touted his concerns about maintaining his idea of integrity in the upcoming November election; he has repeatedly incited unsolicited distrust in mail-in voting, suggesting there will be widespread voter fraud, reported The Washington Post.
“This is going to be a fraud like you never seen before” further adding “… if it’s a fair election, I am 100% on board but if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that” stated President Trump when pointing out specific irregularities surrounding mail-in ballots in Philadelphia. Where the U.S. Postal Service is pushing for an extension on the voting deadline, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer.
When asked by the moderator, Chris Wallace, if he would refrain from declaring victory until the election was independently verified, the President once again refused to make that commitment. It is clear Trump is seeding doubt in America’s democratic process by laying the groundwork to dispute the November election results.
According to reports, in many battleground states, it could take weeks to determine the results of this election, especially due to the high volume of mail-in ballots expected this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many officials have warned that this will not be a smooth election process as they fear Trump will contest the results prompting his base to take to the streets.
One thing we can be sure of is this won’t be a normal election.
On behalf of The Rich Family, we encourage everyone able to carry out their civic duty and vote.