Criminal Trump is clearly unfit for office

The 2024 presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump reaches a pivotal point

Criminal Trump is clearly unfit for office
'His performance demonstrated once again that he is a danger to democracy and unfit for office.'

It's been a brutal week for American democracy. President Joe Biden's surprisingly poor performance in the presidential debate has thrown many in the Democratic Party into full panic mode.

In the aftermath of the debate, it seems like every political major pundit has called for Biden to drop out of the race. But the editorial board of the Philadelphia Inquirer did something different: It called on Donald Trump, the only convicted felon running for president, to drop out.

From an editorial headlined "To Serve His Country, Donald Trump Should Leave the Race":

President Joe Biden’s debate performance was a disaster. His disjointed responses and dazed look sparked calls for him to drop out of the presidential race.
But lost in the hand wringing was Donald Trump’s usual bombastic litany of lies, hyperbole, bigotry, ignorance, and fear mongering. His performance demonstrated once again that he is a danger to democracy and unfit for office.
In fact, the debate about the debate is misplaced. The only person who should withdraw from the race is Trump.

The editorial makes an important point. If the entire press establishment sees fit to call on Biden to drop out of the race because of a bad debate, why haven't they applied this same logic to the convicted criminal who promises to destroy American democracy and rule as an authoritarian dictator?

This unbalanced approach normalizes Trump's danger. It also gives him a significant advantage in the race. It frames the would-be dictator's behavior as acceptable and normal – while framing a weak debate performance as a total disqualification.

So, it's important to see an American newspaper provide such a common sense take on the situation. Read the full editorial here. And the Inquirer currently has a great subscription deal going – $1 for six months! – so please give them a buck if you can.

A bad debate

Let's not sugarcoat it: Biden performed terribly in the debate. But the issue isn't solely his age. Like many a Democrat, Biden seemed wholly unprepared for Trump's onslaught of lies and frames. Unfettered by the need to stick to facts or truth, Trump aimed a firehose of lies at the audience.

The CNN moderators did not provide any fact checking, which rewarded Trump's willingness to lie and gave him a big advantage. He did not have to operate within the confines of reality. This enabled him to confidently assert lies as facts, making him appear strong to those who didn't know he was lying.

In addition, Trump used frames constantly. He repeatedly brought the debate back to the topic of immigration, regardless of the question being asked. He hammered his chosen themes, which were designed to activate conservative ideas in the brains of tens of millions of Americans.

Unfortunately, Biden's approach couldn't compete. He clearly came prepared to stick to his talking points and list the data points that prove his accomplishments as president. Faced with a Trump's formidable framing ability, Biden's Enlightenment Reason approach made him look especially weak.

But let's be clear: This is the approach Democrats have taken for decades. They have expected facts, logic, policy and reason to win debates. It doesn't work that way, and so we have arrived at this perilous moment in history.

Democrats accept the frame

In fact, the debacle over Biden's debate performance perfectly illustrates the major flaws in Democratic communications strategy. Here are three ways in which they are totally playing into the hands of Republicans:

First, Democrats have accepted the frame. Before the debate was even over, many Democratic leaders had largely accepted the frame that Biden's debate performance was a campaign-ending flop that required him to step down. They ceded the narrative. In contrast, Trump could sprout horns, hooves and a tail – and still retain full GOP support. It is Democrats, rather than Republicans, currently strengthening the frame that Biden is no longer capable of running after the debate.

Second, Democrats have allowed panic to lead them into a spectacle of very public disunity. While Republicans line up behind authoritarian Trump – who promises to be a dictator on day one – the Democratic Party project complete disarray. At a time when it should be unified against the looming threat of Republican fascism, they are instead fighting amongst themselves and publicly undermining the Democratic ticket. As such, they are mostly serving Trump.

Third, Democrats are repeating the destructive frame. Donors, Biden staffers and Democratic politicians are leaking a constant stream of stories that further damage the president's image. The Republicans hardly have to do any work – because the Democrats are doing it all for them. Such a public spectacle will help to harden the impression that Biden isn't up to the task and push more voters into panic mode.

Unfortunately, the White House isn't helping matters by largely remaining silent and allowing this narrative to take hold. This inaction itself constitutes a form of action – the action of allowing others to frame the issue.

Freedom vs. Fascism

There are no easy answers at this moment, and it's not entirely clear what will happen next. Biden says he's in the race until the end. But the question now is whether he can halt the Democratic panic spiral and assuage voter concerns about his capability.

He must also find a way to remind voters of what's truly at stake in the 2024 presidential race: a choice between freedom and fascism. Even before the catastrophic debate, Biden and his team were falling short of this goal, despite promises to make the 2024 election a referendum on freedom.

Trump and the GOP have made it clear they plan to destroy American democracy, roll back cherished freedoms and institute a dictatorial regime that may end in bloodshed.

In addition, the United States Supreme Court has just issued a ruling that would grant Trump legal immunity for any "official" acts he commits during a second term. This week's ruling was the culmination of the decades-long investment Republicans have made in stacking the courts – and framing the debate.

This election does not hinge solely on questions about age. It hinges on whether the Democratic Party can frame the stakes for voters in an election where freedom – and the future of American democracy – are on the ballot.

This is the case Democrats need to make to the American people, regardless of whether the nominee is Biden or someone else.

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