2016–2020: The End of a Presidency
Donald Trump may have just hand-delivered the Presidency to Joe Biden on the biggest night of both their political careers.
The Presidential debate on Tuesday night in Cleveland, OH was a sad turning point in the history of the United States and the prestige that we have seen in the office of the Presidency. As CNN’s Dana Bash said moments after the debate, it was a “shit show”. CNN’s Jake Tapper stated it was “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire, inside of a train wreck”. No matter what side of the aisle you are on, tonight was a sad night for the country as a whole as we saw our name disgraced on the political world stage.
Many bombshells dropped throughout the debate with both candidates coming out bruised and bleeding licking their wounds. President Trump took most of the blows as he had several major missteps including refusing to condemn white supremacists in the United States, once again refusing to accept the results of the election, and urging his supporters to go to the polls to act as “poll watchers”. Going into the debate we were not sure what to expect but it certainly was not what we saw.
Refusing to condemn white supremacy in the United States is one of the single greatest missteps that occurred tonight as we see our country in the midst of three crises: a public health pandemic, an economic crisis, and a racial reckoning not seen since the 1960s. Asked several times throughout the night by Fox News host turned Presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace, President Trump named the “Proud Boys” (a neofascist and pro-white alt-right group) and told them to “stand back and stand by” implying that he would be open to their support or resources in the future should he need them.
President Trump, in the same vein, was also questioned on his administration's policy to end race sensitivity training essentially saying that these programs teach people to hate our country in schools, public institutions, and other areas that government employees interact with the public. These policies are dedicated to training individuals on how to approach issues of race and to identify areas where they may not personally experience discrimination and racism in order to understand perspectives others may hold in their day to day lives.
The President went further in his chaotic rhetoric once again pushing that our election systems were in danger. President Trump urged his supporters to head to the polls to act as “poll watchers” which many civil rights groups along with many across the country see as an attempt to suppress the vote and intimidate voters which have been proven illegal in past decades dating back to the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments when African Americans were granted the right to vote when voter intimidation occurred during the Jim Crow south. The President also continued to push the narrative that mail-in voting is a serious security risk with widespread voting fraud when many members of his own administration have said the opposite including the head of the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, many more ballots are rejected due to clerical errors on behalf of voters — including things such as forgetting a signature, mailing the ballot in too late, not filling out the form correctly — than are thrown out due to fraud.
Overall President Trump’s performance tonight was surprising, not in his rhetoric, but in the delivery and constant attacks and swings out of right field during topics having nothing to do with the attacks he was throwing towards his political opponent and at times throwing swings at Wallace. Joe Biden himself had a mediocre night at best but was able to hold his own, meeting the low expectations set by Trump and his campaign staff over the past weeks and months leading up to tonight. Biden took the initiative to reach out directly to the American people, often pointing at the camera speaking to the person on the other side of the screen delivering a memorable line: “Tonight isn’t about my family, it’s not about Trump’s family, it’s about your family.”
How the general public perceives tonight's performance from both candidates has yet to be seen and probably will come out in public polling over the next few days but what is certain is that with close to a month left until the election there is more uncertainty now that there was before about who will clinch the Presidency. If one thing can be summarized from tonight it is that the President hurt himself politically and might have very well hand-delivered the Presidency to Biden during the biggest moment of both their political careers.