BY: Wilbert Mukori
Let’s face it, the Tuesday 29 September 2020 Trump vs Biden USA presidential debate, first with two more to come, was a melee, chaotic and a total waste of time and disgrace. Democracy itself was on the ropes and the pugnacious culprit hell bend on delivering the knock-out punch President Trump – the President of the United States of America, the undisputed leader of the free and democratic world!
The Greeks, the nation that bequeathed democracy to the world 2 500 years ago, accepted that for democracy to work the people must be educated and hence the reason they promoted freedom of expression and freedom of association. No doubt the USA presidential debates were meant to help educate the American electorate so they will make an informed choice of the man/woman to hold the highest office in the land for the next four years. The one thing the Tuesday debacle was not was informative.
Within a few minutes of the 90 minutes debate, it was clear President Trump’s agenda was not be as disruptive as he could. He constantly interrupted Joe Biden. The listeners wanted to know what each candidate was going to do not end the corona virus in America and in follow up question why their opponent’s plan would not work, for example.
Chris Wallace, of “Fox News Sunday” who was anchor and moderator of the debate was forced to intervene. “Please don’t interrupt!” then “Please obey the rules!” and finally “This isn’t serving the country well!” in sheer exasperation.
President Trump did not only undermine the very essence of democracy by interrupting the debate but worse still by raising doubt in the validity of the election process itself! Should he lose the election, he has repeatedly refused to accept the results; implying that could only happen because the elections were rigged.
“As you know today, there was a big problem,” said Mr. Trump during Tuesday’s debate. “In Philadelphia, they went in to watch, they were called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out, they weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things.”
As usual, he did not elaborate or provide any evidence. It is all innuendo and suppositions!
On this occasion, it turns out the officials in Philadelphia were enforcing an existing law designed to stop poll watchers, from all the political parties, observing voter registration activities for fear of “intimidating the voters”.
The Proud Boys, a white supremacist group and ardent Trump supporters, have been involved in disruptive and intimidating activities. When President Trump was asked to publicly denounce the group, all he could master was “stand back and stand by”.
No doubt President Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF cronies have watched the Tuesday US debate with renewed interest and will be thrilled to bits to see President Trump back in White House. They will expect him to tear up Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) and lift the sanctions imposed on Zanu PF leaders. It would be very hypocritical of President Trump to do otherwise when, to win the US elections, he borrowed heavily from Zanu PF’s own vote rigging manual!
“I’ve been involved in a certain amount of soul-searching.” concluded Mr Wallace. “I’m just disappointed with the results. For me, but much more importantly, I’m disappointed for the country, because it could have been a much more useful evening than it turned out to be.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates, the body overseeing the conduct of the presidential debates is “considering changes to the format of this year’s remaining debate, a clear sign of its frustration with the results of Tuesday evening”, reported the New York Times.