What we witnessed in the first presidential debate was, to say the least, shocking, and embarrassing for the United States. We have a president who, if not stopped in November, will usher a Dark Age into American politics. If we are to avoid this, the Commission on Presidential Debates must intercede and do two things: Turn off the microphones once the candidate has used up his time to avoid the constant Trump interruptions. And factcheck in real time in a crawl at the bottom of the screen. If they don’t do this, they should cancel the next two debates. Moreover, we voters must recognize Trump’s attacks on science and democracy as the beginning of an American Dark Age, where facts and the truth no longer matter, if he is re-elected.
In assessing what we witnessed during the debate, it’s important to acknowledge that the moderator, Chris Wallace, could not control the debate. Trump argued with him almost as much as he disparaged Vice President Biden. This kind of disrespect for the process requires turning off the microphones once a candidate’s time has expired and calling out lies in real time. There is simply too much at stake for Americans not to see a real debate on the issues, rather than a school yard brawl brought on by Donald Trump.
We, the voters, must understand that what we witnessed was Trump attempting to plunge American politics into a Dark Age wherein science is ignored, lies create an “alternate reality,” and it’s “normal” to disparage those who resist falling into the darkness. All of this was on display during the first “debate.”
Trump ignored the pandemic and dismissed his own scientists’ assessment of how to fight it, along with ridiculing Biden for wearing a mask. During the debate he contradicted his own Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Robert Redfield, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Deborah Brix of the White House coronavirus task force, and Dr. Stephen Hahn of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all of whom agree on the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to save lives. He said they were “wrong.”
He did this in the face of a raging pandemic which, on his watch, has killed over 200,000 Americans. Science told him that would happen last January. Rather than act to save American lives, he lied — telling us the virus would disappear. This is what the Dark Age of Trump will continue to look like if he is re-elected: science denied, more people dying.
Climate change is the existential threat of our time. If we reach another 1.5 degree centigrade increase in our climate’s temperature, science tells us we will have come to a tipping point ensuring more severe fires, droughts; storms, species decline, and human migrations. Trump is a climate denier. His solution: “We’re planting a billion trees.” The death and destruction from the wildfires now raging in California are no joke. Our fire season is now longer than at an time in history. Trump telling us that we should be sweeping our forests, 57 percent of which are owned by the federal government, is not only ludicrous, it is part of his science denial Dark Age “alternative reality” which will exacerbate if he is given a second term.
In Trump’s “alternate reality” mail-in voting is tantamount to a rigged election: “They’re sending millions of ballots all over the country.” This in the face of reality that can find no massive fraud attributable to voting by mail. Millions of Americans voted by mail in both 2016, and the 2020 primaries. There was no widespread fraud.
In addition, Trump encouraged his voters to monitor the polls, and in the case of the white supremacist organization, Proud Boys, to “stand ready,” which they interpreted as a call to action should he lose the election.
If this man remains our president we will continue to sink into this chaotic abyss. The choice is ours.