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American Democracy Biggest Loser in Trump-Biden Debate

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Last week’s debate between Biden and Trump was nothing short of a debacle, leaving the American public as the ultimate losers. The often incoherent exchanges, false statements, petty personal attacks, and a lack of substantive discussion underscored a troubling reality: the quality of political discourse in the country has reached a disheartening low point and unfortunately, voters seem to believe that neither Biden nor Trump can fix the issues addressing our democracy.

Monmouth University Poll finds about 1 in 6 voters hold unfavorable views of both presumptive nominees.

monmouth.edu

Age and Truthfulness Take Center Stage at Debate

Concerns about Joe Biden’s age were front and center during the debate, affirming the fears of many Democratic voters about his ability to serve another term. According to a recent NBC News poll, 76% of voters, including half of the Democratic respondents, are worried about Biden’s mental and physical health. This sentiment echoes previous findings that showed significant concerns among voters regarding Biden’s age and overall fitness for office​​.

Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster, noted that simply increasing Biden’s public appearances could be a risky strategy due to potential uneven performance and the visual impression of age and infirmity. This apprehension is underscored by frequent criticisms that Biden appears old and frail, particularly when compared to Trump’s more vigorous public demeanor​​.

Despite these concerns, Democratic strategists argue that Biden’s calm and thoughtful demeanor, juxtaposed with Trump’s erratic behavior, might still play to Biden’s advantage in the eyes of the voters as evidenced by a newly released Morning Consult survey that showed Biden to be a percentage point ahead of Trump. The poll conducted on Friday put Biden at 45 percent and Trump at 44 percent.

On the other hand, Trump’s performance, although comparatively more lucid, was riddled with falsehoods. CNN’s fact-checkers reported that Trump made over 30 false statements during the 90-minute debate. These inaccuracies spanned various topics, continuing a pattern of misinformation that has been a hallmark of his public appearances and campaigns​.

Why America is Stuck With These Presidential Candidates

The ongoing presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has raised significant concerns among voters about the quality of candidates available for the highest office. This situation can be attributed to several systemic issues within the U.S. political system.

Primary System and Voter Influence

One major factor is the structure of the primary election system. Early primaries in states like Iowa and New Hampshire have a disproportionate influence over candidate selection despite representing a small fraction of the overall delegate count. This frontloading means candidates often lock in their party’s nomination long before many voters get a chance to weigh in. Additionally, the primary system favors extreme candidates, as closed primaries exclude independent voters and amplify the voices of the most ideologically fervent party members. This structure limits the diversity of candidates and often results in the nomination of individuals who appeal to the base rather than the broader electorate​.

Intra-Party Challenges

Another issue is the inherent risk associated with intra-party challenges to incumbent presidents. History has shown that such challenges can be politically damaging, leading to fractured party support and electoral defeats. For instance, Ted Kennedy’s challenge to Jimmy Carter in 1980 weakened the Democratic Party, contributing to Carter’s loss to Ronald Reagan. Similarly, Ronald Reagan’s challenge to Gerald Ford in 1976 and Pat Buchanan’s challenge to George H. W. Bush in 1992 had detrimental effects on the incumbents’ campaigns. These historical precedents make parties hesitant to challenge sitting presidents, even when their approval ratings are low, as seen with Biden’s current situation.

Leadership Vacuum

There is also a perceived leadership vacuum in both major parties. Many potential candidates refrain from running due to the overwhelming influence and resources controlled by incumbents like Biden and Trump. This situation discourages fresh faces from entering the race and perpetuates a cycle where voters are left choosing between the same familiar, yet often unsatisfactory, candidates. As a result, the political landscape becomes stagnant, and the opportunity for new leadership diminishes​​.

These systemic issues contribute to the current dilemma where the U.S., despite having a vast pool of talented and capable individuals, struggles to present more appealing options for presidential candidates. The entrenched primary system, the risks of intra-party challenges, and the leadership vacuum all play a role in limiting the choices available to American voters.

The recent debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump highlighted deeper issues within American democracy, leaving many voters disillusioned. Concerns about Biden’s age and Trump’s truthfulness underscored a broader frustration with the current political landscape. Biden’s performance reaffirmed fears about his ability to serve another term, while Trump’s numerous false statements continued to erode trust in his candidacy​.

The root of the problem lies in the structural flaws of the U.S. electoral system. The primary process amplifies extreme voices and limits candidate diversity, while the risks of intra-party challenges discourage potential new leaders from stepping forward​​. This has created a leadership vacuum, resulting in a stagnant political environment where voters are left with unsatisfactory choices​.

As a result, American democracy seems to be the ultimate loser, with a significant portion of the electorate feeling disenfranchised and yearning for better options. Addressing these systemic issues is crucial for revitalizing the democratic process and ensuring that the voices of all Americans are heard and represented.

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