What Is Happening To This Country?
The corona virus isn’t the only pandemic that is assaulting the United States. Perhaps far more destructive is the political divide that seems to be widening daily, to the point that the term “United States” no longer describes the country in which we live. It seems all too clear that the upcoming election might prove the final blow in destroying what’s left of the UNITED States.
Objective Observers Stand Alone
Americans who don’t like what’s happening on both sides of the political divide seem to have no recourse but to vote for the lesser of the two evils... despite the fact that putting the stamp of approval on something/someone you consider “evil” would result in the ultimate oxymoron. Whenever I have tried to discuss the current situation with people on both sides of the political spectrum, I’ve found that they are so set in their beliefs that a true “discussion” is impossible.
The Republicans who back Donald Trump, for example all seem to have the same stock answer when asked how they can support a man who is downright nasty. I cannot tell you how many times that question has been answered with, “..,but he’s done so much for this country.” (A few of these people became annoyed when I noted that they must have heard that on Fox News.) When confronted with the facts that President Trump refused to acknowledge the serious nature of COVID-19 way back in February; he made disparaging remarks about members of the military; he attempted to silence medical expert Dr. Fauci when Fauci wasn’t saying what he wanted to hear; etc., etc., his supporters simply state, “That just isn’t true.”
The Democrats, on the other hand, don’t seem to be quite as impassioned in their support of former Vice President Joe Biden aside from the fact that he’s NOT Trump, whom they feel must be defeated if this country is to survive. Whereas the Republicans who support Trump claim that their candidate has done so much for this country, Democrats assert that everything he has done has put the United States on the road to destruction.
The difference between how both parties have responded to the ongoing pandemic only serves to emphasize how serious the political divide is. The Trump Republicans feel that the economy should return to “normal” as soon as possible and agree with their leader that there is no reason schools should remain closed. They also insist that the number of deaths from COVID-19 has been greatly exaggerated.
The Democrats, on the other hand, take the “better safe than sorry“ position and support venturing out as little as possible. Many of them also support virtual learning. Finally, Democrats seem to place far more credence in the COVID.19 statistics that have been reported than do their Republican counterparts.
And the Battle Rages
The first of the 2020 Presidential debates only served to emphasize the negative direction in which this country is heading. Ten minutes into the debate, it became clear that there would be nothing Presidential about it.
Before the debate began, moderator Chris Wallace noted that there would be six fifteen- minute segments, each of which would focus on a particular topic. Wallace also made it clear that each candidate would have two uninterrupted minutes to speak at the beginning of each segment , and that the audience “has promised to remain silent.” (By the end of the loosely labeled “debate,“ thousands of viewers probably were wishing that the candidates had made that same promise.)
The first segment focused on the Supreme Court, specifically Trump’s swift nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trump emphatically stated, “We won the election, and we have the right to do this,” to which Biden replied, “ We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is.“ Biden went on to explain that this would allow the American people to have a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court justice. Referring to Barrett, Biden said, “She seems like a very fine person,” but went on to note that she does not support the Affordable Care Act, which could mean that many Americans with pre-existing conditions would not have health care coverage.
Trump replied, “There aren’t 100,000,000 people with pre-existing conditions,” and with that, the focus quickly shifted from the Supreme Court to Healthcare. Biden declared that he planned to expand Obamacare rather than increase it, to which Trump replied, “Your party wants to go to socialized medicine,” and continued speaking despite Biden’s attempts to reply. Moderator Chris Wallace had a difficult time silencing Trump, but when he finally did, commented, “You have promised to repeal and replace Obamacare for four years and haven’t done it yet.“ At that point, Trump attempted to again take over the debate. Obviously frustrated, Wallace reminded Trump that only five days before the debate, he had signed a document that would protect people with pre-existing conditions.
Wallace obviously wasn’t the only one who was frustrated with Trump’s interruptions and insinuations. After Trump accused Biden of standing with Bernie Sanders on the side of socialized medicine, Biden replied,” I beat Bernie Sanders,” to which Trump contended, “Not by much.” Looking out on his audience, Biden observed, “Everything he‘s saying here tonight is a lie. Everything he says is a lie.” He continued, “There are 2 million people getting healthcare from Obamacare, and he wants to take it away,” to which Trump shot back, “Obamacare is no good. No matter how well you run Obamacare, it is a disaster.” When Wallace indicated it was time to move onto the next segment of the debate, Biden observed, “That was really a productive segment, wasn’t it?”
Debate or Debacle?
The remainder of the debate continued in the same contentious, and many times downright nasty, manner. During the second segment, which focused on the COVID pandemic, Biden claimed that 40,000 people a day are contracting Covid and added, “It is what it is because you are who you are,” and advised Trump to “ Get out of your bunker and your sandtrap,” suggesting that Trump pay more attention to the virus that he does to playing golf.
Referring to the pandemic, Trump contended, “It’s China’s fault,” and added, “The governors said I did a phenomenal job.” Turning to Biden, he went on to say, “ Fake news gives you a good press and gives me bad press.“
The contenders continued to argue, this time about when a vaccine would be available. President Trump said that despite what some of the country’s most renowned scientists have said, a vaccine probably would be available quite a bit before next summer. Biden noted, “This is the same man who told us by Easter this would all be gone.“
At one point, Trump actually commented, “Did you say you were smart? You graduated the lowest or almost the lowest in your class.” He went on to say, “ He wants to shut down the country, and I want to keep it open. Democratic governors want to keep it shut down until after the election.“ At one point, referring to campaign rallies, Trump contended that “Biden’s are smaller because nobody cares. We have tremendous crowds,” and went on to say that sometimes only three people (!) attend Biden’s campaign rallies.
Moving on to the next segment, The Economy, Trump said, “We built the greatest economy in history and closed it down because of the China plagues,” and assured his audience that, “He‘ll (I.e.Biden) shut it down again. He’ll close down the whole country. He’ll destroy the country.“
Biden responded with, “Millionaires and billionaires like him“ have done well, and rhetorically asked, “ How well are ‘normal’ people doing?“ He continued, “ You can’t fix the economy until you fix the Covid crisis, noting that the President should take care of the country’s needs so that it can open safely.
At this point Chris Wallace asked Trump whether or not it was true that he had paid $750 in federal income tax for two years, adding, “Will you tell me how much you paid in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017?“ to which the President replied, “Millions.”
When Biden stated, “You are the worst President America has ever had,” Trump responded, “I’ve done more in 47 months than you’ve done in 47 years.”
Moving along in the same vein, Biden claimed, “We (I.e., he and a President Obama) handed him a booming economy. He blew it.” Biden continued, “Even before Covid, manufacturing went in the hole. I brought back Chrysler and GM, and he blew it,” and concluded with, “We have a higher deficit with China now than we did before.”
Trump chose to reply to these charges by denigrating Biden’s son: ”Why did the mayor of Moscow’s wife give your son half a million dollars?” Rather than allowing Biden to reply, Trump continued to talk until Biden finally was able to say, “My son did nothing wrong. It’s hard to get any word in with this clown.”
(When Chris Wallace again had trouble silencing Trump, he reminded the combatants that they each had two UNINTERRUPTED minutes at the beginning of each segment.)
The fourth segment of the debate dealt with racism. “It’s about equity, equality, decency, the Constitution,” Biden offered. “This is a President who has done everything to encourage racial division. What he did has been disastrous for the African-American community.” Trump responded by calling Biden a “super predator” who “can’t even say the words ‘law enforcement’...You’d lose all your radical left supporters.” He went on to claim that, “We believe in law and order, and you don’t.“
Biden countered with, ” There is systemic injustice in this country,” and said he felt that the ‘bad apples‘ need to be held accountable. “ We need more transparency,” he added. “Violence as a response is never appropriate.”
All of this served as a segway to segment five, which focused on Law and Order/Violence. Chris Wallace posed the question, “Is this (I.e., violence) really a party issue?“
President Trump continued trying to bait Biden into saying that he doesn’t believe in law and order. Instead, Biden claimed, “I’m totally opposed to defunding the local police” and went on to say he felt that police officers need to get to know the people in their communities.
When Wallace asked Biden whether or not he had ever called anyone in Oregon to stop the violence there, Biden replied,”I currently do not hold public office,” and added he felt that President Trump keeps trying to “rile things up” rather than calming things down.
When the moderator asked each of the candidates why, when looking at his record, the American people should choose him to serve as their President for the next four years, Trump took no time in responding, “Nobody has ever done more as President,” claiming that before the pandemic he had been responsible for creating the “greatest economy in history.” He also claimed that, unlike President Obama and Vice -President Biden, “We take care of our vets.”
Biden pointed out that under Trump’s Presidency, we’ve become “weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided, and more violent,” and claimed that under his and Obama’s leadership there was “15% less violence than there is today.“
(At one point during this segment, Chris Wallace again voiced his frustration with President Trump’s constant efforts to cut into Biden’s time when he asked, “Why don’t you follow what your campaign agreed to?”)
The final segment of the debate focused on climate change, although President Trump chose to shift that focus to the forests. “I want crystal clear water and air,” he said, adding “We are doing phenomenally.” “We have to do better management of our forests.”
Biden asked what had happened to “making sure the air is clean,” and added, “We have to get back into the Paris Accord.”
Again, Trump questioned why Biden hadn’t been able to get that done in 47 years. Continuing his attack on Biden, he claimed that Biden had “made up“ negative things that Trump had not said about the military.
Near the end of what had become a debacle, Chris Wallace asked whether or not the contenders felt that the coming election would be ”fair”. Biden said that Trump “ Is trying to scare people into thinking it’s not going to be fair,” after which he looked out at the audience and declared, “ If we get the votes, it will all be over. It’s up to YOU.”
Trump followed with, “ As far as the ballots are concerned, it’s a disaster. This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never heard. We might not know for months,” setting the scene for a possible refusal on his part to leave the office of President..
Biden ended with, “I’ll be a President for Democrats and Republicans.“
George Stephanopoulos aptly summed up the debate when he said, “That was the worst Predidential debate I’ve ever seen.” I think that probably echoed the thoughts of many disappointed and disgusted Americans. It will be interesting to see how many people tune in to the second of the three Presidential debates...if indeed it actually occurs. I would imagine that watching two kids and one bully throw verbal jabs at one another wouldn’t appeal to an awful lot of people.
Perhaps all of us should reflect upon the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln so long ago: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”