How do you feel about being disrespected?
Yes, you were disrespected. You, citizen, were insulted this past Tuesday night. It happened at the presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. An American tradition of civility and decorum was trashed.
Debates between presidential candidates, which started in modern times in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, have for the most part been based on the principle of educating voters about the candidates. Even in fiercely contested presidential races there was always an underlying framework of mutual respect.
In 1980 Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan competed in a legendary battle for the White House. But the biggest putdown in their presidential debate that year came when a smiling Reagan gently admonished Carter with, “There you go again.”
Despite their hard fought election battle, when it came time for the transition, the two foes carefully followed tradition, met at the White House, shook hands, and rode together to the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration ceremony. Regardless of the outcome of the election, both men realized the eyes of the nation and the unflinching gaze of history were upon them.
In last Tuesday’s debate, once again the eyes of the nation and the unflinching gaze of history were there. What those eyes saw was a disgrace. The President of the United States reached down into the gutter, shredding every aspect of presidential decorum, tradition, and civility. His opponent, Joe Biden, was offered a golden opportunity to take the high road, to demonstrate to the nation that at least one person on the debate stage could act in a presidential manner. He declined. While Biden never reached Trump’s low point in constant rude interruptions and garbage-hurling, he indulged in childish name-calling and unnecessary insults.
Some viewers thought they were watching two presidential candidates insult each other, but in fact the candidates were insulting you, the voter, the American citizen.....the American citizen who believes in and has sacrificed and even fought for our exceptional civilized democracy and our standing in the world as a leader in free and fair elections. Trump, and to a lesser degree Biden, put on an absolute scum show. They embarrassed and disrespected us as citizens. It is not at all inaccurate for me to say that I have seen kindergarten classes at Franklinton Primary School where the students are far better behaved than what we saw Tuesday evening.
Voters should refuse to be insulted and disrespected as they were on Tuesday night. The keys to the White House do not belong to either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. They belong to you, citizen.