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The New York Times is beginning its advocacy to not have presidential debates—a staple in every presidential campaign since the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter debates in 1976. They have culled from an extensive archive of presidential debates to bolster their claims that debates are unnecessary. This push against open discourse between presidential candidates is being spearheaded by left-leaning personalities like Joe Lockhart and never-Trumpers such as Bill Kristol.
Elizabeth Drew wrote a recent New York Times piece that suggested the Trump-Biden debates should be scrapped altogether, qualifying her statement by saying her piece "isn't written out of any concern that Donald Trump will prevail over Joe Biden in the debates; Mr. Biden has done just fine in a long string of such contests," adding that "the point is that 'winning' a debate, however assessed, should be irrelevant, as are the debates themselves."
Drew added that people who plan to vote should "pay attention to and choose among the presidential candidates is to follow the long campaign that so many complain about" instead of relying on the debates. It appears that it did not occur to Drew that many Americans do not have hours throughout the election season to keep up with what is going on in the political world.
She went through a few examples of how presidential debates have gone wrong in the past, including a 1980 example when Ronald Reagan simply responded with "there you go again" after incumbent Jimmy Carter pressed Reagan on Medicare, saying that the comment "brought down the house and that was that."
She concluded by calling President Donald Trump's presidency possibly the "most disastrous ... in history," noting that the "party conventions, also vestigial organs of a political system that no longer exists, are close to being done away with," and that "there's no reason not to throw the presidential debates on the trash heap of useless (at best) rituals that are no help in our making such a fateful decision."
Drew is not the only one who wants to prevent the populous from hearing the debates. Political Analyst Joe Lockhart appeared on CNN to discourage presidential Joe Biden from debating Trump, saying: "Whatever you do, don't debate Trump."
Lockhart said: "We saw in the debates in 2016 Hillary Clinton showed a mastery of the issues, every point she made was more honest and bested Trump. ... But Trump came out of the debates doing better I think because he just kept repeating the same old lies: 'we're going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it,' 'we're going to keep all those Mexican rapists out of the country,' and 'we're going to make great trade deals' — none of these things have come to pass."
Lockhart added that "giving him [Trump] that national forum to continue to spout—get him to 21,000 or 22,000 lies—I think just isn't worth it for the Democrats or for Biden." This sentiment is reminiscent of Twitter and other social media platforms making an effort to stifle conservative voices and pro-Trump information from getting out there.
It appears that even universities are stepping behind the idea of getting rid of the debates, as political reporter Alex Miller tweeted in late July: "Notre Dame says it's withdrawing as a host or the first 2020 presidential debate. The University of Michigan was also supposed to host a debate and withdrew back in June. It will now be in Miami at the Arsht Center. No word on Belmont University or University of Utah (VP)."
Never-Trumper Bill Kristol came out in support of Notre Dame backing out, tweeting: "Good. No need to go to any trouble to replace this debate. Indeed, I gather Biden’s already all booked up with zoom calls in those weeks. Also, the Jewish holidays. And the new Perry Mason series. Too bad!"
Newsweek reported that former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Zac Petkanas agreed that Biden should back out of the debates, noting that "Biden shouldn't feel obligated to throw Trump a lifeline by granting him any debates at all. This is not a normal presidential election and Trump is not a legitimate candidate."
It's odd to suggest that the sitting president of the US is not a legitimate candidate for the presidency.
Though it is still uncertain whether the presidential debates will happen, the populous has not been given the opportunity to speak their mind about the debates and whether the country should go through with them.