Terry H. Schwadron
June 28, 2020
Why am I already dreading a Donald Trump v. Joe Biden debate?. Even worse, three of them, with the Trump campaign asking this week for a fourth. Even Biden doesn’t see the point.
Do I really care whether Democrats join Republicans in worrying about whether there is a balloon drop on a crowded floor as the high point for political conventions that already sound as if they are re-creations of prehistoric, meaningless exercises in public manipulation?
If these candidates, these all-seeing political visionaries, can’t perceive that the combinations of coronavirus, joblessness and lack of an economy for all, an insistence on looking away from racism, the shortcomings of our systems of health and education and climate change are tons more important than the shape of the convention floor or the number of silly non-debates that these two characters can undertake, it is no wonder that Trust in our institutions is swirling down the drain.
It’s not as though we don’t need a thorough wash and rinse for what has passed as three years plus of ruining our alliances and basic expectations from government.
But Just the thought of Trump standing across from Biden, making things up on the spot to “look tough,” to accuse Biden and Barack Obama of spying on him, of beating up on immigrants and the poor is nauseating. The idea of Biden trying to use logic on an opponent who doesn’t believe in reason, to talk about heart with Trump who rejects compassion for winning, to talk about his bipartisanship in a time of party war is a defeating vision.
These two can’t even agree on the questions, never mind the answers.
But one debate, maybe. Three? Summed even now, Trump is going to stand there and say he’s the greatest gift to America ever, and Biden will retort, no you’re not. You have been bad for America. It will be playground retorts, not a debate.
Nothing will be learned, nothing will be gained, no voter will change a mind. At the very best, Trump will have used some nutty one-liner that will get repeated endlessly, and Biden will have gotten through the night without sticking his linguistic foot in his mouth.
We know Trump stands for Greatness that revolves around self; Biden celebrates Values and Respect over bulldozing every foe in sight. Trump sees Darkness, Biden sees Light.
End Debate One. What will they talk about next?
Why conventions at all?
The discussions about the shape, size and intensity of the four-day free prime-time advertising ploys that we call political conventions may be even worse. Not only will there be no drama, there will again almost nothing more to be learned urgently.
But, still, the big giveaway at the door will be coronavirus contagion.
At least Democrats are not pretending that the event more important than public health. How can you be the candidate for handling pandemic leadership while contaminating thousands of would-be supporters all for the sake of a photo-op. Oh, that would be Trump and the Republicans. Trump is insisting on a four-year coronation ceremony, disease be damned — or ignored, more precisely.
For Democrats, all the air went out of competitive balloons when Bernie Sanders stopped aside. We probably will know Biden’s vice-presidential choice by then, and the only possible interest might be in how far progressives can push the party platform to the left. For Republicans, there are no questions at all, except why we will all are expected to attend a campaign rally? Count me out.
If they must have these gatherings, why can’t they be in a huge outdoor stadium with masks and distancing?
Do these political parties believe that we need political conventions to meet Donald Trump and Joe Biden? In this year? With this president? With the evidence of inability to grasp and deal with problems so evident that it is spilling out onto the streets?
What’s the Point?
The political parties have one goal — to build enthusiasm for their candidate.
But Team Trump has all the enthusiasm it needs or wants with people who will deny the facts of contagion or the facts fueling public policy, who will overlook Trump’s lies and ethical violations, who will insist that Law & Order beats Black Lives Matter any day. What they may not have is a majority.
Biden, on the other hand, has Trump, the ultimate candidate to force even the most bitter or most unenthusiastic opponent of Biden’s to get to the polls any way possible just to vote against Trump.
Actually, what we really should be lining up this week is the entire Trump team against the whole Biden team. What I hope we’d see is a matchup for each Cabinet choice that shows that one side believes in government enforcement while the other believes in getting rid of all government supervision. One side believes in Science, fact and planning, while the other relies on the gut of the candidate, and is often wrong or making it up,
That would be a debate worth seeing.
In the meantime, we should skip all the conventions and move right to the Vote — by Mail.