Trump v. Biden: Why the Debate is Almost Pointless
Former Vice President Joe Biden faces President Donald Trump Tuesday night on the debate stage, but voters hoping for any level of substantive policy discussion are almost guaranteed to walk away disappointed. Trump’s debate performance in the 2016 campaign was all insult where intellect should be, and nothing in the man’s demeanor has changed in the years since to indicate this debate will be any different.
It’s almost pointless. Almost.
Unfortunately, tonight’s showdown will reflect the failings of the country as we currently know it. We’re living in a dumbed down era where education is considered elitist and facts are dismissed as quickly as millennials swipe left. Traditional rules of debate require preparation, professionalism, an ability to present strong, research-based arguments and at least a small amount of mutual respect. But then again, there is nothing traditional about our current state, no norm hasn’t been smashed.
For Trump, Tuesday night will be just another hostile takeover of the airwaves, a space where he’ll regurgitate his tired insults that his base is somehow not tired of. Chris Wallace will no doubt attempt to stay on topic and challenge Trump to support his wild conspiracy theories, but Trump will just wave his hands around and spit word salad. And why not? It’s worked for him with the MAGA crew — they eat it up and praise him for ‘telling it like it is’ despite the fact that he’s said literally nothing of value.
But for Biden, it’s a chance to show voters that he can stay resolved and focused, that he can manage to present actual information between insults and accusations lobbed at him. If Biden plays his cards right, he can give people a sense of security they’re craving.
It’s no secret that Biden isn’t the progressive ideal and that the excitement level over his candidacy is just kind of ‘eh’, but it’s questionable whether that really matters this time. A solid majority of voters don’t like Trump as a person and don’t approve of what he has and hasn’t done. People are broke and afraid.
Most voters are so exhausted by the onslaught of nastiness, fear and corruption Trump has invoked over the past four years that they’re willing to vote for a can of soup to take his place.
Sure, there was substantial drive for real change through the primaries and a collective sigh of frustration when the centrist candidate was chosen. But the country has now had a moment to adjust and the reality of a Trump presidency for another term is so desperately frightening that most people are more than willing to take the boring option that keeps us alive to fight another day.
Biden’s in the unique position to not require much excitement — he just needs to be more of a human being than Trump is. If he can answer questions without getting too riled up or falling on his face, if he can draw on his years of experience and show compassion for people, he’ll do just fine, both at the debate and at the ballot box.
Now, whether those ballots are counted and the election results are honored is an entirely different story.