The Debate Was About Theatrics, Not Public Policies

Good morning from Chicago, where I am attending a family reunion. My family arrived yesterday evening and enjoyed greeting other relatives, so I did not view last night’s televised “debate” between Joe Biden and Donald Trump as it happened. Based on all media analysts and political pundits I have considered since then, Biden and Trump performed as I expected.

Biden was hoarse and halting. Trump was rambling and untruthful. Both candidates performed miserably. If the future of the nation and world is to be decided by a debate performance, reasonable political observers should be concerned.

Media and political pundits will point to the debate and use it as the lens through which Biden and Trump should be compared. That’s what they are paid to do. But that is always the wrong standard for judging public policy.  The true, correct, and proper question is whether the U.S. will be more just, stable, and functional nation if led by Biden or Trump, not how either candidate “performed” last night.

That question didn’t require last night’s version of a sporting event or theatrical performance, despite how much time, money, and work went into the event.

How Biden and Trump “performed” last night doesn’t change the fact that Donald Trump is a sociopath, pathological liar, convicted felon, and lifelong scofflaw whose tenure as the 45th president produced policies that caused irreparable harm. And last night’s event doesn’t change the fact that Biden’s tenure as the 46th president benefited more people in the U.S., and caused harm for Palestinians, Haitians, and migrating people of color.

We shouldn’t be talking about a debate performance when people suffered and died because of Trump’s Covid incompetence and women and girls in the U.S. are suffering and dying because of Trump’s Supreme Court appointees.

We shouldn’t be talking about a debate performance when Palestinians in Gaza are starving, Palestinians in the West Bank are being run off their land, and the U.S. is out-sourcing another imperialistic adventure in Haiti because of Biden’s policies.

We shouldn’t be asking whether Trump or Biden “won” last night. We should be pondering why a society thinks it will be more just, peaceful, and humane if led by a sociopath. That we are not talking about this issue is the most serious problem facing the United States.

Wendell Griffen is an Arkansas circuit judge and pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Ark.