OPINION: Choose the BEST president, with and without the presidential debates

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From the first announcement that there would be a presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the writer has been concerned about citizens who would be so little informed that they would depend upon the debate to decide who to vote for as president. That kind of stance is inadequate, if not a dangerous one for a decision of that magnitude. It is contrary to what this writer has frequently talked about in the case of local, state, and federal elections.

Putting all of the eggs in that one basket leaves the voter open to accept or believe what candidates say, when the candidates have studied and will say what they know the listener wants to hear. It often leaves the listener to have to decide in isolation, what is true, what is only partially true; what is left unsaid and what is so mixed or muddled until one is easily misled. In the heat of the debate, candidates can and sometimes do deny or downplay their previous positions or actions. Finally, relying on the one or two debates does not give one a full picture of the candidates, who are their associates, benefactors, and the like; what are their proclivities, strengths, and weaknesses.

The writer, nevertheless, witnessed the debate on June 27th between Biden and Trump. It was a 90-minute period that was not without benefits. The debate covered the major issues: the economy, social welfare programs, abortions and reproductive health, immigration on the southern border, climate change and environmental protection, foreign affairs, the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, retribution against political opponents, appeals to African Americans, their age and fitness for the presidency, and the acceptance of the election outcome in November, even if he loses.

There was perhaps nothing new heard during the debates. Both men enunciated much of what they had expressed previously.

Aside from that, the reality is that Joe Biden generally spoke emphatically about what he had done over the last three years, while Trump generally spoke about what was wrong about Biden and his administration. The manner in which the debate proceeded, Trump was able to lie about every issue – what he did and did not do; what Biden did and did not do. There was little to no “fact-checking,” leaving little informed voters to their own devices. It was quite noticeable that on almost every question from the moderators, Trump had to be reminded that he had not answered the question. The moderators diligently carried out that role.

In terms of demeanor, at times Trump appeared overconfident, while at times Biden appeared almost wondering. It is at such points that people who are not “news junkies” may need to be reminded that Trump is often overbearing, considering himself to be one who is above the average Joe or who is somehow a “rock star.” Likewise, viewers who just tune-in to a debate may not realize that Biden grew up with a serious speech impediment, which can explain some of his responses rather than his being someone who has gravely diminished mental capacity.

Coming away from the debate last week, the writer would say that Biden had the best arguments, that he was most truthful, and could have stood out much more clearly if Trump’s lack of policies, lack of truth, and avoidance of direct answers had been exposed. At the same time, because Trump was able to speak in any way that he desired without being tied-down, to his base he was great, while the lesser informed viewers are left to have to try other means to come up with a choice for president. Some of them will undoubtably believe that Joe Biden is a man too old for the job. 

People who would like to be serious, conscientious voters must logically attack the problem of choosing a president in November. When all the empirical data or information is in, there should not even be a debate about who should be president. The policies and records are clear; the civil and criminal behaviors are there; the personalities are quite clear; and the projections of what each has enunciated for the next four years are quite well known. At this point, Americans have to make the BEST choice, with or without the presidential debates. 

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OPINION: Choose the BEST president, with and without the presidential debates

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
July 10, 2024