International Opinion

The 'train wreck' debate and the moral decay of the Republican Party

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Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden facing off against incumbent Donald Trump (image via YouTube)

The Biden-Trump debate wasn’t a debate in the ordinary sense. 

Some commentators called it a train wreck. CNN’s Jake Tapper said it was even worse than that. He called it “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck".

Tapper’s colleague Dana Bash was less polite with her on-air analysis: 

“A shitstorm.”

Donald Trump’s unhinged diatribe couldn’t be controlled by the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, and Joe Biden did well to stay as composed as he did. In the end, Trump played to his base in his usual style, but failed to convince many swinging voters. If anything, he lost support.

In CNN’s post-debate poll, six out of 10 watchers said that Joe Biden "won" the debate, while only 28% gave their vote to Trump. The same voters were interviewed before the debate and 56% expected Biden to do best and 43% voted for Trump. 

43% is in the usual range of polls of Trump’s base.  Is it possible he actually lost some of his base after the debate? 

According to Buzzfeed News, he may have shot himself in the foot: 'Even Trump Diehards Thought The Debate Was A Mess'. Hundreds of Trump supporters had gathered at a watch party in Pennsylvania and even some of his supporters expressed concern towards his performance

So how did America get into such a state that it is impossible to have a presidential debate? There are many answers, but the most obvious one is the decay of decency in the Republican Party (GOP). Republican morality died with Senator John McCain

Now the U.S. is being dragged through the mud by Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to the dismay of staunch Republicans like Stuart Stevens.

Stevens shared his grief in an article in Politico Magazine headed, '"He’s Destroyed Conservatism": The Republican Case Against Trump’s GOP'. Stevens was a powerful GOP operative who now feels terrible about what he has done to his country. As a mea culpa, he has published a book entitled 'It Was All a Lie:  How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump.'

Stevens worked for the GOP for roughly four decades. He worked for former President George W. Bush, on the campaigns of Republican Presidential nominees such as Mitt Romney and Bob Dole and for dozens of other GOP politicians.

So, he ought to know. And what he knows is scary. Stevens says the Republican Party is a malign force jeopardizing the survival of American democracy and compares his lifelong party to the Mafia, to Bernie Madoff’s fraud scheme, to the segregationist movement and even to the Nazis.

Politico Magazine senior writer Michael Grunwald has known Stevens for 25 years and conducted the interview. 

On what went wrong with the Republican Party, Stevens said:

You have good people letting evil happen. For the most part, these Republicans aren’t bad people. If you moved in next door, they’d be a great neighbour. But that was true of a lot of segregationists I knew growing up in Mississippi. They wouldn’t have used a racial slur for a million dollars, but they wouldn’t stand up ... All these Republicans who know Donald Trump is a disaster will try to justify it, because they got something they wanted.


Mitch McConnell thinks Trump will be remembered as his fool, and I think the odds are pretty good it’s going to be the other way around.

Stevens worries about the upcoming election: 

He’s losing, there are reports of voter irregularities in Florida, like there always are, and he sends those guys in camouflage into Miami-Dade County to seize the ballot boxes. Who’s going to stop him? The county security guards? They’re not going to phone ahead. What are the courts going to do? Order another election? Throw out Dade County?


I don’t know. Who would object? [Attorney General William] Barr would go right along with it. The inability to imagine Trump has always been his greatest advantage. Normal people expect people who are acting abnormally to revert to normality. 

This is the really frightening part. Remember in the debate when Trump told The Proud Boys to “Stand back and stand by?” Trump has his band of far-right extremist storm troopers in the same way Hitler rose to power with the help of the Sturmabteilung.

Don’t forget that the Trump opponents have guns, too. And will the generals obey the Commander-in-Chief if he orders out the troops? 

We live in perilous times. Trump’s Evangelist supporters should read II Timothy 3:1-2, where the apostle Paul writes:

'But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves.'

Dr Norm Sanders is a former commercial pilot, flight Instructor, university professor, Tasmanian State MP and Federal Senator.

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