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Donald Trump, the controversial President of the United States of America once again was in the news for the wrong reasons. The Presidential debate which was held on the 29th of September with Fox News and Fox News Anchor, Chris Wallace as the host and moderator saw Donald Trump being childishly arrogant and domineering with little or no facts and unnecessary dialogues.
Weeks before the first Presidential debate of 2020 ever unfolded, President Donald Trump had laid down the markers and boasted to the viewers that the debate would be about the self-immolation of a ‘drooling 77-year-old fool’ (Joe Biden) on live national television in front of 100 million people. This was far from what unfolded. Instead, the Democratic candidate Joe Biden who showed up was alert, cogent, and largely efficient against Donald Trump who presented a monumental challenge. On one level, Biden had an extremely difficult job, just as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did four years ago, figuring out how to cut through the relentless bluster with which Trump uses as ammunition against his debate opponents. Yet Trump’s own pre-debate criticism of Biden ended up handing the Democratic nominee an enormous gift: the gift of low expectations which in turn ruined Trump’s performance considering how terribly he handled the debate.
More than anything, Biden needed to protect his lead in this first encounter, to prevent Trump from gaining traction at a critical point in the race. And though the former Vice resident was not always as on point as he might have been, by and large, he got the job done. Trump frequently interrupted, prompting Mr. Biden to tell him to ‘shut up’ as the two fought over the pandemic, healthcare, and the economy. Trump bullied, bulldozed, and obfuscated his way through the 90-minute showdown, interrupting Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News at every turn. He ignored substantive questions and Biden’s policy arguments, and instead swung at insignificant facts about Biden, taking aim at both Biden’s son and a distorted description of his political records.
Over Trump’s interruptions, Biden responded by mocking the President, calling him a ‘clown,’ a ‘racist’ and ‘the worst President America has ever had.’ He criticised Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, his failure to produce a health care plan, and his response to protests over racial injustice. Over and over, Wallace tried to regain control of the debate, without success.
Instead, Trump talked about his favorite Facebook conspiracists and the violent white supremacists. He urged the Proud Boys to ‘stand by’ because ‘somebody’s got to do something’ about ‘Antifa and the left.’
He was asked by the moderator, Chris Wallace, if he was prepared to condemn white supremacists and he initially said he would but when asked to denounce the far-right Proud Boys group by name, he sidestepped.
In his words: ‘Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.’
The Proud Boys group which was founded in 2016 by Canadian-British right-wing activist Gavin McInnes is a far-right, anti-immigrant, all-male group with a history of street violence against its left-wing opponents. The group’s name is a reference to a song from the musical version of the Disney film Aladdin. Members often wear black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirts along with red ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.
A Proud Boy must declare that he is ‘a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologise for creating the modern world.’ Their platform, such as it is, includes Trumpian ideas (‘glorify the entrepreneur’, ‘close the border’) libertarianism (‘give everyone a gun’, ‘end welfare’), and traditional gender roles (‘venerate the housewife’). They are not exclusively white but they have became notorious for violent political confrontations. The Proud Boys and affiliated groups have faced off against Antifa in a number of violent street rallies in the last two years, most notably in Oregon, Washington, and New York. Two members were jailed last year for beating up Antifa activists in New York. Also, social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have all banned the group from their platforms, and members and official chapters have been largely shunted towards less-popular networks. Enrique Tarrio, the group’s current chairman, reacted to the debate on the alternative discussion network Parler:
‘Standing by sir…. I will stand down sir!!!’
Antifa on the other hand is short for ‘anti-fascist’. It is a loose affiliation of far-left activists that often clash with the far-right at street protests. They include anarchists, but also communists and a few social democrats. What sets them apart is their willingness to use violence (in self-defence). The movement, which at one point almost entirely disappeared in the United States, saw a surge of interest after the election of Donald Trump. They routinely clash with the far right. The group has been prominent during Black Lives Matter protests in many major cities, and have been particularly associated with unrest in Portland, Oregon.
Both groups are relatively small and can count on, at the most, a few thousand active supporters. But their propensity for violence, particularly when they confront each other on American streets, has made them a much bigger topic of conversation than those numbers suggest.
Also, President Donald Trump made it clear that he would refuse to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the (likely) event that he loses. He threatened months and months of chaos if the election does not go his way. He communicated that he will seize any opportunity to disrupt the vote and resist the outcome. He communicated more forcefully than ever that the only security the country has for a constitutional future is that Biden wins by the largest possible margin.
Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the former Vice President and his son acted corruptly in Ukraine. It is an issue Republicans believed at one point would dominate this year’s campaign, though it has failed to catch hold amid a global pandemic, urban violence, and an economic downturn. Still, some Democrats had wondered how Biden would respond when the topic arose. Some feared he would lose his cool, sensitive to matters of family. Instead, Biden seemed prepared and spoke straight to the camera as he sought to rebut Trump’s claims that his son engaged in wrongdoing when he served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
‘This is not about my family or his family, this is about your family, the American people,’ Biden said. ‘He doesn’t want to talk about what you need.’
Undeterred, Trump kept returning to the issue. As Biden sought to criticise the President for reportedly calling United State’s war dead ‘losers,’ he brought up his late son, Beau who had served in Iraq before succumbing to brain cancer in 2015. Instead of rebutting the claims about his views of the military, Trump sought to return the debate to Hunter Biden. ‘I don’t know Beau Biden,’ Trump scoffed and then he unnecessarily brought up the past drug use of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who was discharged from the navy in 2014 for taking cocaine.
Shouting over Donald Trump, Mr. Biden said:
Mr Trump in response to this objected to Mr. Biden using the word ‘smart’.
‘You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class,’ the president said. ‘Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word.’
Local rules required everyone in the room to wear masks but of the President’s family members present, only the United State’s First Lady Melania Trump donned a face covering during the debate.
As the debate progressed, Trump grew increasingly manic. By the time he got to ‘forest cities’ and radical leftists overrunning America’s main urban centres (at least the ones in blue states), any sense of self-control had collapsed. As Biden stood silently by, Trump ranted and raved like the crazy, old fool that Biden was supposed to be.
Biden made a point of keeping his focus on the voters, frequently addressing the camera, directly appealing to ‘you folks at home’. Trump, by contrast, kept things focused squarely on himself, his stellar achievements, his endless grievances and his bizarre conspiracy theories.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK