LETTER: First presidential debates of 2020

In last night’s debate we witnessed firsthand the effects of how we as a people in America are behaving lately. 

Meaning, when what used to be referred to as the “F bomb” is now a commonly uttered word. When comedians depict themselves holding the severed head of the President, while others wear headgear that is patterned after Nazi stormtroopers and we accept both as “normal,” we should not be surprised by last night’s “show.”  

We regularly say some of the most vile things to each other on social media. Things that we would never say to someone’s face. 

When it comes to the debate itself, I long for a Republican like Ronald Reagan. I long for a Democrat like Walter Mondale. Those days are gone. President Trump accomplished his goal last night, if one understands how this presidential election is going to play out: the undecided voters are irrelevant. There are no undecideds. This is a “base” election. Who will turn out more of their base. 

I didn’t like the way either person on that stage behaved but President Trump strengthened his standing with his base. Vice President Biden tried with his. No matter what one might think of the occupant of the White House, calling the President of the United States of America a “clown,” “fool” and saying “Shut up, man,” further establishes my opening statement. This presidential debate was a hot mess. 

This debate may have highlighted less about what the candidates said, and more about how they said it. Think what you will of President Trump’s boisterous and aggressive behavior, but his behavior is consistent with who he is and always has been. He is authentically consistent in front of Americans, whether talking to them or not. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s behavior may or may not be consistent with who he is. Biden comes across less than authentic and hard to define. And when a candidate is not authentic, it is hard for voters to connect with that person. When Americans are looking for relief, security, peace, prosperity and hope, will they look to an authentic street fighter? Or will they look to a less authentic, but more polished street actor? We’ll know once the votes are counted sometime in November. Could either have done better at being presidential? Yes. I blame the moderator and the commission for not having better control. As a former talk show host and often-used emcee myself, I would have silenced both. The whole thing could have been handled differently. If the real question from last night is: “Was your guy more of a jackass than my guy?” The answer is “Probably,” but did you or me or anyone expect anything different with the way we as a people treat each other right now?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Sadly, I see none of the above in the debate nor in our discourse in America today. We can do better.

Bill Post