Putting around the presidential debate

A letter to my grandchildren.

Dear Kieran, Alana, Patrick, Angus, and Luna,

This is June 2024, and the world has gone completely mad. Over in America, two old men are vying for the for the position of the 47th President of the United States of America.

The candidates

One of them, Donald Trump, somehow became the 45th president of the United States eight years ago. Now he wants to try again and his evil followers are supporting him. He is completely mad, dangerous and a convicted criminal but that’s all looks good on your CV if you’re running for the presidency.

Here’s just one example of his behaviour: During the COVID pandemic, Donald suggested we cure ourselves by injecting bleach if we got COVID. Yes, you read that right – bleach! Thousands of people died of COVID, but it’s likely the rest of us would have if we’d followed his advice.

Now, the other candidate is just really, really, really old. Much older than me. He’s still standing – just – as the current president.  His name is Joe Biden and he is the 46th president of the United States. To become the president of the United States, it seems you have to do a few debates on TV before the election.  The first one was four days ago.

The debate

Even though debating isn’t their best skill, these old men, had to answer questions about important stuff like childcare, the climate crisis, the opioid crisis, abortion rights, immigration, border security, the economic situation… They didn’t have to answer questions about their golf handicap.  Joe was having a hard time making sentences. Sometimes he completely lost track of what he was talking about mid-sentence and then forgot to end his sentence – the part where you’d normally put a full stop.

The debate left me with two big questions:

Number one: In a country of 342 million people, aren’t there any better candidates than these two old fossils? 

Number two: Could they even get a job at MacDonald’s?

The news channel

The debate facilitators were two young, clever journalists from CNN, a news channel that is screened all around the world. They took turns to ask the questions.  Joe and Donald could have a learnt a thing or two from them about turn taking.  The facilitators learnt very quickly that the questions needed to be in their simplest form so that the candidates would understand what was being asked. Despite that, the questions were more often than not, so tricky that neither Donald nor Joe were able to answer them. Instead, they dodged the facilitator’s questions and answered other questions that hadn’t even been asked. Here are some examples.

The cost of childcare

For many families, the cost of childcare for two children is more than their rent. What would you do to make childcare more affordable? 

Simple enough – eh?

Donald decided to talk about firing people and how he’s the best at it, because Joe never fires anyone. He also said that Joe is the worst president ever, and that he, Donald, is the best and he could prove it if he could be president again. Then he started talking about taxes and China, adding that he is the best at it, while Joe is bad at it.

Joe, on the other hand, talked about how awesome America is because everyone thinks they have the best military and that Donald is the worst president ever. Joe also talked about taxes and how Donald’s plans hurt the middle class. Joe also mentioned needing more machines to catch bad drugs coming into the country and giving more money to parents for childcare. Joe was clear on his position that the best way to solve childcare woes is through superior military and drug detection technology.

Aren’t you all lucky you’re not kids living in that country? As little as you are, you might have to get out and find a job to support your parents to pay the rent.

The climate crisis

Will you take any action as President to slow the climate crisis?

Donald started talking about how much the police love him, and how he helped Black colleges, and how he created opportunity zones.  When asked the same question again using plainer English, he said he wants super clean air and water, and they had it when he was president, using all forms of energy, all forms, everything. Donald added that he had the best environmental numbers ever. In Donald’s own words, “and my top environmental people gave me that statistic just before I walked on the stage, actually”. But he didn’t mention anything about the climate crisis. Maybe he thought that ramble covered it.

But Joe, on the other hand, said he passed the best climate change legislation ever and criticised Donald for doing nothing for the environment. Joe boasted about his Climate Corps and reducing pollution, but neither really tackled the tricky climate question head-on. Maybe they needed further clarification of what was being asked.

Joe had a unique way of answering his questions ensuring that he wouldn’t get lost in the conversation. He numbered all his main points; “Number one’ … “number two” and sometimes he got to “number three”.  This was a clear indication that Joe has a great command of numbers.

The opioid crisis

Donald starting off by rambling about the United States having the largest deficit in history under Joe’s presidency and praising his own tariffs. When asked the same question again but this time in even plainer English than before, he was still unable to give a relatable answer. Instead, he talked about how great his dog detection equipment is and blamed Joe for all the drugs coming across the border. But Joe was keen to talk about his fentanyl detection machines and how he’s working with other countries to stop the drug. He also criticised Donald for ending certain border policies. Meanwhile the opioid crisis question floated off into the ether.

The toughest job in the world

What about your age and ability to handle the toughest job in the world?

This was possibly the most complex question of the debate. When asked about being 86 at the end of a potential second term, Joe talked about his long career, the jobs and investments he’s brought to America, and how the country is still the envy of the world. But Donald, took it to mean another opportunity to boast about how great Donald is. He talked about passing cognitive tests. That’s really good because his tweets demonstrate he’d never pass a Grade 1 spelling test.

But neither of them addressed concerns about their age or capability to serve the country. Instead, they used the time to highlight their achievements, take jabs at each other and talk about their golf handicaps. Donald said he’d just won two club championships and “to do that, you have to be quite smart and you have to be able to hit the ball a long way, but he (Joe) can’t hit a ball 50 yards. Joe said he was willing to challenge Donald on the driving range. He added that he would even challenge Donald to carry his own golf bag.

Closing statements

Donald wasn’t keen on the challenge, so he said to Joe, “let’s not act like children”.

Joe looked at Donald and replied in a manageable sentence, “you are a child”.

And that was the end of the first debate

When you grow up, you’ll have a tough job fixing the damage caused by my generation. If you study this presidential debate in history classes, you’ll understand why the world got to be in such a state.  It reflects a lack of honesty, respect, kindness and empathy, values that are pivotal in making the world a better place. Values that seem lost today.

I know you’ll all grow up to be kind, loving and care about the people around you and the environment in which you live. Just like your parents. As you resurrect the world you inherit from this generation, remember to respect different opinions and stand up for what is right. Be curious, ask questions, and learn from everyone. And listen with an open mind, even when you disagree.

I am so proud of each of you and I hope I’ll still be around to see the amazing adults you will become.

Love forever,
Nannie Annie

If you want more, (and it’s unlikely), you can click on the link below.

https://edition.cnn.com/2024/06/27/politics/takeaways-biden-trump-debate/index.html

Thanks to Unsplash for feature image on mini-golf equipment

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