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Anne Mikolay

The first Presidential debate in the 2020 election will go down in history as the most contentious, disgraceful, shocking exercise in political buffoonery this nation has ever seen. It’s been called a train wreck, a dumpster fire, a chaotic mess, a ****show. Whatever you want to call it, last night’s debate was far more divisive than anticipated. Regardless of who you think came out ahead, within the first twenty minutes of the debate, the loser was shamefully apparent. The loser in all of this is America itself.

Last night, the President of the United States manifested an alarming cruelty and defect of character. He was rude, smug, disrespectful. Rather than outlining his policies and presenting a plan for America going forward, he ranted and raved and attacked his rival. Confrontation and heated speech are inherent in any debate, but never before have we witnessed a President practically foaming at the mouth as he verbally stomped all over his opponent as well as the debate moderator. Indeed, last night, there were times Chris Wallace seemed to be over his head and unable to control the circus unfolding before him, but in all fairness, Wallace was probably as appalled as everybody else watching the insanity.

There were far too many inaccuracies and nonsensical claims (raking the forest prevents fires?) spoken by our President last night to review here, but certain moments during the debate will forever stand out in my mind. I will never forget the moment Chris Wallace directly asked President Donald Trump if Trump would condemn white supremacy, and Trump would not, could not, do it. Trump rambled on in response, but at no time did he state his opposition to white supremacy. In fact, Trump’s shocking statement, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” was very clearly a threatening message. America now knows with absolute certainty where Donald Trump stands on the issue of race relations. We also know where he stands on democracy; the man stuck by his baseless claim that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, and he admitted he will not peacefully concede the election if he loses. Additionally, last night, America witnessed our Commander in Chief’s insensitive cruelty as he attacked Joe Biden’s family. Hunter Biden’s personal trials should never have been mentioned. A candidate’s family should be off limits. Period.

This morning, not surprisingly, right-wing extremists are celebrating Trump’s “stand by” comment; Trump gave the Proud Boys, a white supremacist hate group, legitimacy and notoriety. Think about that. The President of the United States, a (former) beacon of hope and equity, abandoned our principles and promoted prejudice while his country and the entire world watched. If that doesn’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.

While Trump’s base, like sheep to the slaughter, remains loyal, the rest of us are a bit shell-shocked after last night’s debacle. We don’t want a volatile president; we want a steady, thoughtful commander at the helm. We don’t want a bully who will conduct delicate negotiations with all the finesse of a bull in a china shop; we want a skilled negotiator who conducts himself with dignity and grace under fire. We don’t want a president who smirks and rails against his opponent; we want someone to lead with intelligence and respect. We do not want a president who fosters an “us against them” mentality; we want a president who will root out evil and diligently work to close the divide. We want someone who will look directly into the television camera, as Joe Biden did last night, and address the hurting American people.

As America’s representative on the world stage, and as the alleged embodiment of American principles and purpose, Donald Trump failed miserably during this first debate. He did more to promote the “Not My President” mentality than he did to assure Americans that all lives matter. The first presidential debate of 2020 was unprecedented. It was most definitely a train wreck, a dumpster fire, a chaotic mess, a ****show. And, we the American people, are the losers.

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