Temper Tantrums... the American way

CORNEL CODIŢĂ (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu
English Section / 1 octombrie 2020

Temper Tantrums... the American way

Is there anything left to ruin in American politics? So far one of the most beautiful, interesting and useful traditions has been ruined: the televised debate of the two contenders for the presidency. The key word is of course, debate. In the US, in particular, it has a specific meaning. Most of the people who have gone through high-school at least, have encountered, and some of them have even practiced debate in the form of a contest, on topics pertaining to life, society, law or politics in a precisely regulated form. There are team-based competitions held locally, and nationwide, every year. That is why, whoever watches the confrontation of the presidential candidates, naturally don't expect the formalism of a school competition, but definitely with the substance of argumentation, the beauty of the road towards the imposition of a conclusion or the solid, rational fighting of the opponent's claim. A kind of sparring with ideas, theses, arguments and rebuttals, attitudes and positions that are essentials in relation to the problems of American society. That has been the model, from the famous confrontation between Kennedy-Nixon, in 1960, up to now. The crystal vase of the commanding tradition has been splintered into millions of pieces. About 80 million, that is the primary estimate on the size of the audience for the event that was held last night. So in order to describe the event: Trump came in swinging, flinging things like baseballs towards Biden; in the end, with an obvious struggle, Biden managed to deflect, before the attacks hit him straight in the forehead. The outcome? No less than 60% of those who were polled after the MMA style-televised cage match, which has replaced the debate, have first of all been annoyed and disappointed, not at all impressed by the candidates' performance. Of course, there have been some topics in the debate, which have been used as a pretense, for the two to throw at each other as many weapons as possible, from insults, to snapping at each other, and from blatant lies, to the dry data of social statistics, well draped in fake news or personal "additions". The crisis that the coronavirus has caused in America and its handling, the state of the economy, racial discrimination, public order and its enforcement, right-wing and left-wing extremism, the appointment or the postponement thereof of a judge on the Supreme Court on the seat that was left vacant, the taxes paid or unpaid by the two presidential candidates, will there or won't there be electoral fraud, will the elections be decided at the ballot box or not, will there be a need to resort to Congress and the Supreme Court, dark money and the Russian influence in the history of the candidates or their close relatives, etc.

Enough to go around for everybody, without a chance of anybody understanding a thing of what the two were saying. I don't think I've ever seen a televised "debate", let alone one for the presidential elections, where the two were speaking at the same time, so much and so often, trying desperately to silence the other or at least to cover up his words! As for the "moderator", he was not just out of his league, he was simply kicked from the game by the unfinished exchange of blows, allowed or not allowed, between the combatants.

Who won and who lost? The question is somewhat irrelevant, at least, from the competition of ideas standpoint. Looking at it differently, it still has its role. As predicted, current president, Donald Trump, has succeeded in imposing the style and manner of confrontation that gives him the edge. As a matter of fact, the only one he knows, understands and he masters: create chaos and then pick what others are unable to select from the disorder that was created! Donald Trump did not "play" for the honor and beauty of competition, or for the stuffy judges of a jury that nobody cares a dime about, but for his own crowd.

The gallery needed to see its "hero" fighting using all the weapons, whether allowed or not, without any kind of pulled punches or scruples, outside all the rules agreed upon with anybody who wants to take his favorite toy, the residence in the White House! From that point of view, "the Trump show" was perfect, efficient and will leave marks where he wanted: his political territory, the territory where no opponent could handle him. Biden's perspective is perfectly symmetrical. He has proved to his own voters, what they considered to be axiomatic from the start: Trump is incompatible with any notion of rationality and is capable of doing anything to keep his position, his seat and his privileges in the White House. Not one of the candidates has tried or had the chance to communicate with that part of the electorate that has not yet decided who they're going to vote for.

The next confrontations, on October 15 and October 22nd, but I don't think that anybody expects them to have anything to do with the traditional debate of the presidential candidates. We will only see more "temper tantrums - the American way"!

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