The Clear Winner in the Second Debate is Russia
The second debate has concluded and we are really no further along than when we began, we might be worse. It seemingly started well — we were able to get almost an hour of debate on each candidate’s plan for health care that highlighted critical distinctions in approaches. And then CNN went full Bravo and decided that fighting and one-liner comebacks were more important that presenting policy positions to inform the electorate. Welcome to 2016, the redux.
The mainstream media still continues to shirk their responsibility in helping to get Donald Trump elected, and what’s worse, they continue to utilize the strategy that provided ratings then, while knowing the full cost now. Instead of just fueling an outlier’s candidacy, like they did for Trump when they provided him with nearly unlimited airtime and the appearance of overwhelming popularity before, cable news channels are now utilizing the bickering reality show format. Before entertainment, there should be a journalistic duty on the part of journalists, and before ratings there should be a rock-solid commitment by those journalists to make up for past transgressions by informing an electorate before the most critical vote we’ve ever seen.
There is a difference between a debate about differences in policy and approach and a Real Housewives Reunion. The perfect example of this last night was the way in which each candidate attacked the front-runner Joe Biden. There is nothing wrong with calling out a candidate’s decisions in the past that would influence how they lead in the future, it’s expected — even necessary. But how this was done is the difference between a debate and a carnival. An example of these differences was the way in which Gov. Jay Inslee directed criticism at Biden and how Senator Cory Booker did it.
We’ve taken a wrong turn if a candidate is so consumed with getting the leading sound bite the next morning that they are willing to abandon an argument based in legitimacy for popular colloquialisms that give the appearance of winning a popular culture contest. We did that in 2016 to the extreme. It’s not working out.
Everyone not voting for Donald Trump, who is willing to vote for anyone else seems to agree — we need someone who can beat him. If this is the most critical focus, then the last thing we need is to start employing his techniques for below the belt attacks that chip away at credibility and accuse other challengers of behavior that might actually be criminal.
Keep in mind that Gabbard defended Russian military operations in Syria and supported the actions of Assad, which ultimately aided Putin. Today the number one trending hashtag on Twitter after the debate is #KamalaHarrisDestroyed. But let’s go back farther. Gabbard’s popularity initially came from her support of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in 2016 and she would have likely been his VP choice had he won the nomination. We have substantive proof now that the Sanders campaign was aided on social media (at the very least) by Russia and Putin operatives. The plan was to sow discord within the Democratic Party and attack from the inside. It worked. Now we are entering round two and Gabbard is the puppet being used to attack a top performing candidate with unsubstantiated claims, while a paid troll army hits the ground to fuel the flames and rev-up the infighting. Putin didn’t have to evolve his 2016 strategy one bit, because we did nothing and have learned nothing.
“If there was ever a moment when Congress needed to exercise its clear constitutional authorities to regulate elections, this is it. America is facing a direct assault on the heart of our democracy by a determined adversary. We would not ask a local sheriff to go to war against the missiles, tanks and planes of the Russian Army. We shouldn’t ask a county election IT employee to fight a war against the full capabilities and vast resources of Russia’s cyber army. That approach failed in 2016 and it will fail again.” Ron Wyden (D-OR), member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Political debates are supposed to be boring. They should be policy heavy discussions from highly intelligent people who are hammering out our best path forward. As evidenced by the “how bad could a TV star be, let’s throw a match on this gasoline” mentality utilized by voters in 2016 that got us here, it’s critical now to emphasize that this is not entertainment — it’s life and death. By continuing with debates moderated by highly produced television shows that bring up old disputes to fuel new fights simply for ratings, we might as well turn the White House into the Colosseum now. If you intend to fight a reality TV star President by morphing the Democratic challenger into a Real Housewife, we are doomed before we even fail. If you refuse to do anything about the attacks of a foreign hostile nation to successfully control free elections in the United States of America you should just raise the hammer and sickle flag on that new Colloseum White House, too. Russia’s tactics haven’t changed. Donald Trump’s strategy hasn’t changed. This is why Democrats have to.
If you like this piece and you want to help promote independent journalism from a female perspective, please support my work by clicking the button below to sign up for a free subscription.
Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.