The first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden quickly devolved into a presidential debacle.
Seasoned journalists and pundits described the “debate” as the worst the country has ever experienced.
While both candidates struggled at times, there was one individual on the stage who demonstrated the dark depths to which the country has sunk.
President Trump set the tone early by continuously interrupting former Vice President Biden and moderator Chris Wallace. For the entire debate, Wallace reminded Trump of the agreed-upon rules while the president spent most of the time ignoring them.
Even before last night, the president constantly has used chaos and diversion in an attempt to control situations where he knows the facts and truth are against him.
His constant interruptions derailed what should have been a healthy debate of ideas. Instead, the president inserted himself into the process, essentially making himself an embarrassment to the idea of a debate.
Many described his antics as childish, but I have been in too many classrooms where I have seen children act much better than the president. A more precise description of the president’s actions would be authoritarian narcissism.
Last night’s debacle was a microcosm of the president’s leadership and governing philosophy. He sees himself as a strongman, empowered with an authority of privilege to say and do as he pleases.
When the president feels threatened or out-of-control, he creates and inserts chaos in order to regain control. By following this tactic, he diverts attention from serious issues that need to be addressed while critics discuss his abhorrent behavior.
Another truth emerging from the presidential debacle was Trump’s unwillingness to publicly denounce white supremacy and systemic racism.
The president made it perfectly clear that he considers white supremacists to be part of his base and systemic racism as part of his personal platform. When pressed to denounce white supremacy, the president declined to say those words.
Furthermore, the president openly called for the right-wing militant group, The Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by” when stating that “somebody has to do something about Antifa.” In response, the white supremacy group started sharing a “Stand Back and Stand By” logo.
The president’s rhetoric is extremely dangerous at this point, as it could appear that he was openly calling for private citizens to raise arms against other citizens.
Continuing along the line of confrontation and interference, Trump later seemed to advocate for voter intimidation. During a segment in which he questioned the validity of the election, he urged his supporters to visit polling locations and “watch very carefully.”
In what seemed like a capitulation of defeat, Trump was already setting the stage to invalidate any result that does not declare him as the winner.
In what should have been a healthy and constructive debate of ideas, one man held the country hostage for an hour and a half. The President of the United States clearly told the American people who he was last night. We would do well to believe him.
While last night’s debate turned into a debacle, America does not have to follow this path. Decent and thoughtful citizens, both conservative and liberal, need to stand together to denounce this type of politics and incivility.
We need to come together with our honest differences in order to move the country forward through robust debate and productive compromise.
If this debacle has any hope of turning around, then good people must start acting with compassion and kindness. If Americans want to continue striving towards a more perfect union, then we must start finding common ground to move forward.
Over the next 34 days, democracy hangs in the balance. American citizens will determine the path forward.
My hope is that we are better than last night’s presidential debacle. We are Americans, a melting pot of diverse people striving for the sacred causes of freedom and justice for all.
CEO of Good Faith Media.