The first Presidential debate was last night. Most commentators aptly referred to it as a shit show. It was intensely uncomfortable to watch, and demonstrated to the whole world how much Trump has debased this country.
Most people see this debate as a disaster. I do not. The purpose of a debate is to clarify where the candidates stand on important issues. This debate clarified where Trump and Biden stand on what should now be the ONLY issue of this election: the defense of democracy against fascism.
Trump made it as clear as day: he knows he is going to lose this election, and so he is gong to disrupt it by any means necessary. He is lying about ballots being stolen and secret plots of Democrats to trash ballots cast for Trump . But more importantly, Trump’s intentions were revealed by his statement to the Proud Boys (and all other white supremacist militias) to “stand back and stand by.” With this, Trump has finally outed himself as the leader of the fascist movement of this country. He clearly intends to mobilize these racist thugs to attack polling places and to intimidate voters.
This is all part of Trump’s larger effort to delegitimize this election. Republicans have for years been creating mechanisms to dissuade people–especially Black and brown people–from voting. Now, Republicans are creating a large legal team to sue swing states over their ballot certification process. And Trump is rushing Coney Barret onto the Supreme Court to cast a vote to decertify the election results in at least one or even several states. He also hopes that the chaos he creates will make it impossible for the electoral college to vote on December 14 as required by the Constitution. He has publicly said he hopes that the end result will be a vote by Congress (also allowed by the Constitution if the Electoral College cannot decide the election), which Trump thinks will give him the edge since voting is based on Senate rules.
The only issue in this election is now clear: will the American people get to choose the next President of the United States (and the Senate) or will democracy cease to function in the United States?
For the next thirty-two days, Biden’s campaign should pivot away from the platform on which he is running. Instead, the entire effort should become a campaign to save democracy. And all Republicans need to be immediately put under intense pressure to declare their confidence in the ability of the states to conduct a safe and secure election.
Trump hopes that on Election Night (November 3), most mail-in ballots will not yet have been tallied and since Republicans are being instructed to risk their lives to vote in person, that he will have more votes that night. He plans to declare himself the winner on November 3. On November 4, everybody in this country who still loves democracy must take to the streets to defend the election. And we must stay in the streets until the results are certified and Trump is defeated.
Since Trump has chosen to attack the election, it is time for all democratic-minded people of any political persuasion to come together to defend democracy. The time is short, but it can be done.