US presidential debate: the world was watching

I hadn’t really wanted to watch the presidential debate between Donald Trump and President Biden.

I was concerned at what the outcome would be and just didn’t feel like self-flagellation or an attack of severe depression on a cold Melbourne morning. But a friend rang up and insisted, so over a cup of coffee and many sweet biscuits later (generally consumed out of stress), I watched and listened to the drama unfold, as did millions around the world.

A number of questions and issues came to mind both during the debate and after, as I listened to political commentators rate the performance of both men. The most obvious concern was to do with the ages of both of these candidates. In an era where it is not politically correct to pigeonhole people because of their age, it is difficult to stand up and shout, “They are too old for the job!” But maybe, dare I say, that they are.

Are they too old?

The vast majority of workers around the planet have stopped work by the age of 78 or 81, or at least have wound down the intensity of that work and have come to an arrangement of self-delusion that they are still as capable as they once were but just a bit slower perhaps. They are not expected to be making life-threatening decisions on a daily basis, while accompanied by the nuclear football armed for Armageddon. Does the world want either of these men having that level of responsibility?

The second issue that came to mind was concerning the language used by commentators and analysts.

One commentator, picking over the entrails of the debate, referred to Donald Trump’s remarks as “falsehoods”. When did we water down the language with euphemisms to change bold-faced lies into falsehoods? I am appalled. And it seems that the general public is accepting of this, despite the hue and cry that goes on when other lesser mortals fall foul of the politically correct code of conduct out in public!

Have our standards and expectations fallen so far that this is what we routinely accept of our politicians? A lie is a lie, an exaggeration an attempt at swaying public opinion.

Finally, I am concerned that we are now accepting mediocrity and image over substance. One of the candidates answered the questions put to him, gave relatively coherent comments, though stumbled a few times. The other refused to answer or deflected questions, attacked the opposition, told porky pies and attempted various character assassinations in the rambling diatribe. And yet the commentators of the world have focused not on the lack of substance from one participant but the old man behaviour of the other.

Visual message

Has the world become so used to image being the primary yardstick by which we make decisions?

The famous debate in America between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy set the scene for the power of the visual image and the election of, in Kennedy’s case, a young and visually appealing man.

Neither man in the debate the other day could be considered visually appealing but, sadly, one did look frail and at one point incoherent.

My concern now is that we have become the TikTok generation that wants to be entertained rather than governed, amused rather than made to think, given wild promises and slogans to replace genuine debate and policies that will be democratic and uplifting. Sad days ahead, I fear.

Who do you think won the US presidential debate? Is either candidate suitable for the role? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: What our grandparents can teach us baby boomers


  1. If I was an American I wouldn’t vote for either of these two. I know from personal experience that you are at your peak between 50 and 55. That’s the age you need for a US president. Is these are the best the US can do? God help us.

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