Debate Deep Dive: Discussing the First Presidential Debate with Professor Clifford Cawthon

The first presidential debate of the 2020 election was unlike any in recent memory. To dig into what happened and what it means we reached out to Bellevue College Political Science Professor Clifford Cawthon. The following is a transcript of our conversation over Zoom, conducted on October 4th. The interview has been minimally edited to improve readability.


Seamus Allen  

I appreciate you getting back to me so promptly, and also just taking time out of your day to talk to me, it means a good deal.

Clifford Cawthon  

Oh, of course, it’s fine. I’ve been working on a couple things for my lectures in the next week. And, you know, trust me on the other side of the screen, your instructors, many of them, I can tell you feel the same way about just being overwhelmed by everything that’s going on, especially in the social sciences. We are aware [of what is going on], trying to figure out exactly how to process everything individually, but also how to help all of you, you know, make your way through this and process everything, because there are some very deep concerns. There is a lot of trauma, especially for folks of color, especially for black folks, you know, in the community right now. And really, in terms of dealing with that in addition to the pandemic, it’s something that for a lot of students, there’s a lot, essentially, there’s a need for the classroom to be a, in my opinion, a welcoming space once again, and how to do that is the thing I know myself, my colleagues, a bunch of other folks are really working on.

Seamus Allen  

Absolutely. Yeah, it’s tough. The debate last Wednesday was pretty striking. Like, what was your initial like, visceral reaction while you’re watching it?

Clifford Cawthon  

By the way, I also write locally for local publications and I was in the press pool myself .

Seamus Allen  

Oh, no way!

Clifford Cawthon  

Yeah, for small publications like the South Seattle Emerald, the Seattle Globalist, the International Examiner, so I appreciate you rolling into questions. I love it. I love it. 

Clifford Cawthon  

But to answer your question, I wasn’t necessarily surprised. But I was just as dismayed. Really, you know, I think the debate about the debate during the week reflected the concerns of many social scientists, many of Donald Trump’s opponents, but also some of his allies. On the right, you know, on the center, right, still within the kind of traditional republican ideological circles, it reflected all those concerns. And for supporters of Joe Biden, it reflected a deep seated concern within the democratic camp that Trump represents a very non traditional way of doing politics in earnest. Right. So all in all, it’s.. it was really bad. It was a train wreck, to say the least. 

Seamus Allen  

Do you feel like that train wreck nature of it ended up like favoring one candidate or the other?

Clifford Cawthon  

So I mean, if you look at Donald Trump, his background is not from politics whatsoever. It’s not from public service. In fact, quite the opposite. So as a landlord, as a real estate mogul in New York City, running casinos… I’m not going to go over his entire professional record, but long story short, he doesn’t come from the world of legislative politics or public service, and really this kind of polite and polished culture, this professional culture that Joe Biden comes from, you know, having sat in the Senate for decades. He was Vice President – the old style of politics. So [during the debate], the old style of politics took a backseat to the kind of calamity and really manufactured chaos that we see entertainment media, So unlike with the kind of journalism you’re doing now, the kind of journalism I’ve done, your goal is to get the who, what, where, when, why, right? The sensationalism is, you know, save that for reality TV. Trump, on the other hand, comes from the kind of talk radio, pundit spaces and reality TV spaces, if you will, that really capitalize on chaos. So on one hand, I believe that that was just his style that was coming up. On the other hand, with Biden, if I was, you know, an employee in a Biden campaign right now, if I was on communication staff, I would say, ‘hey, maybe it’s not necessary.’ It’s morally dubious to point out all of his negative qualities while he has COVID. The Biden campaign has pulled all their negative ads for now. But it is, you know, it’s important to point out that he can’t speak to policy in a way that’s honest, that is concise. And in a way that actually talks about and really addresses the concerns of the American people. So in that way, Biden came from that debate looking like the, ‘sensible’ person, for voters that were concerned about sensibility or that were concerned about policy. So in that case, I would say in each one, well, I would say for Trump, overall, it’s a net loss with the voter base broadly, but with his supporters, his supporters are not wavering. So with those that declared their support for Biden in Trump that night, according to a number of panels that were televised, and from a number of, you know, a number of articles and polls that were done after the fact, it showed that there wasn’t really that much movement, right? So there was no real clear winner in terms of the person that looked presidential, that was well informed, and to not provide misinformation. And in terms of strength. Because Trump came off as a bully, Biden came off as someone that could be rattled. And both of those were at least in terms of strength, in a general sense, rather unbecoming.

Seamus Allen  

This debate was certainly a lot more striking than you know, Donald Trump’s debates with Hillary Clinton in 2016, though those were also certainly non-standard. And I think you mentioned something about Trump’s style. Do you see this more as just the evolution of Trump’s style as a politician or as more of a strategy for the debate?

Clifford Cawthon  

That’s actually a very good question.

Clifford Cawthon  

So my personal opinion is what you see is what you get with Donald Trump, there’s not really an evolution style. So if you watch videos of his interactions with the press, which, Bob, I’m sure you as a journalist have feelings about that. But also, if you look at his interactions, during the first shutdown, the first big shutdown, I want to say it’s 2018-2019 during the big government shutdown that lasted about a month, but I want you to fact check me on the exact date. So Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer went to go meet Trump. It was televised and I don’t know if you remember this, it was televised and essentially they goaded him into admitting ‘Hey, I own the shutdown. This is mine.’ Long story short, Trump’s combative and aggressive nature has been on display all this time. I mean, are just too many examples to have just off top my head to be honest with you. So I would say that he has been pretty consistent there. Now again, I don’t think that it is too biased or unkind to say that it’s a bullying tactic. He’s consistently been that aggressive, downtown Manhattan businessman that, regardless of what you say, if he doesn’t get what he wants, you’re either fake news, you’re an idiot, or you are somehow just someone trying to bring him down, right. Which is not at all the case in politics, things are more complicated than that, even though politics is very much about winning, and often it boils down to that zero sum game, when it comes to actually executing policy, it’s far more complicated. And there’s actually a lot of compromise. For the people, it’s often not meaningful in terms of their actual life conditions. But in terms of the way policy actually gets written down on paper, and implemented, there’s  a lot of compromise there. 

Clifford Cawthon  

And just to kind of build on my answer and to hopefully answer your question, it wasn’t necessarily an organized strategy, but I do believe Trump went in with a strategy because Joe Biden is also known as someone who you can easily get on their skin, we’ve seen that with a number of debates. So I believe that, you know, his staff knew that. And again, I have to go and actually look at an analysis of it. This is just my opinion. But I believe his staff understood that and basically told him to attack, because there were several instances in that debate, where Trump attacked Biden personally, particularly his kids. And I can tell you, as someone from upstate New York, you attack someone’s kids, those are fighting words, right? You can, you know, you can be on both sides, you can be on the same side of the aisle about any issue, you can be in the grocery store, you can be at a nursing home, but you attack someone’s kids, then it’s go time, right? So given the fact that there was such a presence of personal attacks, and there was this concerted effort to interrupt Biden. Not to merely whisper under the mic or to, you know, to show displeasure with what Biden said, but to specifically interrupt him to make it as chaotic as possible. I believe Trump’s staff gave him the green light and said, hey, go do that.

Seamus Allen  

Yeah, absolutely. I think you mentioned earlier, kind of in that vein that, you know, for people who already supported Trump, that didn’t really change the needle, right. For people who didn’t support Trump, it was just more evidence of what they’d already believed. And at this point, how does that affect your thoughts on debates as a medium of political discourse in our country? Like, are they even still worthwhile at this point if it’s moving the needle so little?

Clifford Cawthon  

Well, no, I would say that with that particular debate, because it was so chaotic, it didn’t move the needle. But in the past, the presidential debate is the best advertising tool a candidate will have. So presidential debates in the past have often, especially closer towards the election, have been a make or break moment for that candidate to connect with undecided voters or voters that could be persuaded. Now, we are in a much more data driven age where that persuasion is happening all the time. In fact, I tell my students, if they go on YouTube and see those ads, just like notice, what ads are you getting more frequently and consider that. So there is an entire process going on at the moment of targeting certain groups of people by age, by race, by economic step, by what you look at online, taking all that data and building a profile on you. That’s been quite well documented, and we know what’s happening to persuade you, but those presidential debates are still the most expedient and really one of the most, I would say, traditional tools for making the big case. 

Seamus Allen  

Right.

Clifford Cawthon  

But when it came to that debate, the first presidential debate, it failed in a number of regards. One, Biden essentially sought refuge, and I love how people frame it as seeking refuge because he really was, almost like someone who was being harassed speaking to a superior or speaking to a police officer, speaking to a third party in order to seek refuge from that harasser. And I don’t mean [that], in terms of sexual harassment, I’m more talking about like interpersonal harassment. But when he was speaking directly to the American people, directly to viewers, he was attempting to make the case in terms of policy, or at least in terms of contrasting himself, with Trump and his platform, his plan his vision, with Trump’s tenure as president If failed, in terms of him being able to fully articulate that due to, well, Trump’s interruptions, but also I would say, failing to clarify the details of some of his policies. And I think the best example was his stance on the green New Deal, whereas, you know, correct me if I’m wrong, but on his website it says he supports some elements of the green New Deal. However, his plan is different in a number of different details, right? Whereas with Trump, [Biden] has to go on the defensive about whether or not he supports the Green New Deal. And regardless of what he says, all you noticed was the drama.

Seamus Allen  

Yeah, absolutely.

Clifford Cawthon  

People get drawn into that. And on the other hand, in terms of the other parts, or the other part of it in terms of looking presidential. While Trump came up as a bully, Biden came off as someone that was attempting to, you know, to to fend off a bully. For some people, that makes Biden look like the sensible one, but for others that falls short of what looks presidential in terms of being able to keep one’s cool. Also, when Biden tried to deliver a number of zingers while, you know, folks that support him said yes, he’s standing up to Trump, but to others, or to those who are undecided, or those who were expecting more of a measured, you know, even adult response. When I say adult response, I mean a response in which one was completely confident in themselves, unshaken, and that could essentially make light of an insane situation, while making sure they’re getting to the point and whatnot. That was that it was lacking to some degree. So in that case, there wasn’t really a lot of advantage on Biden’s part on Trump’s part. 

Clifford Cawthon  

Overall, it was a complete total failure. There have been a number of observers that have basically boiled it down to almost pretty much every statement on Trump’s models, either a lie, an exaggeration, a mistruth, or a combination thereof. And when it comes to what was it when it comes to policies and whatnot, it was it was just rather disturbing. But more importantly, one thing I do want to point to was his failure to outright condemn racism.

Seamus Allen  

Right.

Clifford Cawthon  

White supremacists, and specifically, his doubling down on dismissing systematic racism. If you look back at many conservative politicians, Bush one and two, Ronald Reagan, you know, going back to many of the conservative politicians in the latter part of the 20th century, for the most part, there’s been a common theme of attempting to at least unite the public, and while their policies, you know, once examined, disproportionately harm certain groups in certain sectors of the American public, they all attempted to appear conciliatory. But with Trump, he simply, again reinforced what many people, particularly voters of color, like myself, knew about him, right? The Trump I saw on display there failing to denounce white supremacists, you know, doubling down on his policies to suspend racial sensitivity training, referring to the quote unquote, inner cities, which is just a dog whistle, referring to black and brown folks and the criminalization of us there, and so on so forth. All of that was on display that night.

Seamus Allen  

Absolutely, I – oh sorry, go ahead.

Clifford Cawthon  

To answer your question, outside of this abnormal situation, outside of Trump are debates absolutely useful. I’m sorry, I just wanted to finish with that.

Seamus Allen  

Of course. I think one of the most staggering, and you brought this up a little bit. staggering outcomes of the debate was when Trump specifically called out the proud boys on national television, and I was wanting to get your thoughts on that. And specifically, like, how you feel like the average person should be reacting to having a far right group like that called out by the President.

Clifford Cawthon  

The average person should be scared, the average person should be deeply concerned and scared, regardless of how you know what party you affiliate yourself with. The average person should be scared, and the average person should be quite dismayed that the President of the United States is a racist. And for some, that may be a very contentious statement, because of all of Trump’s campaign, you know, events and the RNC where it was noticeable that he brought out select friends of his who are black. And hell even brought out someone who he recently pardoned, which just denotes a huge amount of leverage, you know, in just in a very dehumanizing way, putting some on display and saying, Hey, I’m not racist, because I have these black people on display that say so, regardless of what I’ve actually done, in addition to what I’ve said, right, so all of those things are exceptionally problematic. They allude to, you know, the reality that Donald Trump does not see himself as president of all the United States equally, the fact that he did not outright condemn the Proud Boys… I’ve seen some that argue,  he said, ‘Sure, but all the violence I’ve seen is on the left.’ To anyone that is deeply concerned, or just in casual parlance, this right? If, hypothetically, if I were to assault you,  and I say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, but I thought you deserved it,’ then I’m not really apologizing. What I’m doing is I’m justifying my point of view. As President of the United States, you should unequivocally denounce it and be comfortable with saying ‘I denounce them I, I do not want their support.’ For him to then have to backtrack, and say, ‘Well, I believe all these other groups should receive a strong response. But also, I love my supporters.’ It sends a very conflicting message. So I would be scared if I were the average voter, because let’s be clear, that these white supremacists known as the proud boys are also mysoginistic, they are homophobic, their view United States is not one that is multiracial, multireligious, gender or sexuality inclusive. It’s not the society that we have. Instead, their view of America is a white picket fences, everyone stays in their place, black and brown folks stay in their place on the other side of town, where there’s no such thing as non-heterosexual identities. [In their vision of America], you perform your gender one way there is no other way. Their image is one in which the economy is specifically structured to favor white men, to favor white households. I would say that is the deep concern here

Seamus Allen  

Yeah, absolutely. I think Yeah, for me personally, that was certainly one of the most staggering moments was when he kept getting pressed on that but wouldn’t [denounce them].

Clifford Cawthon  

I do want to just clarify that he is not just a racist because I disagree with them or others disagree with them in terms of policy. But when I say he’s a racist, it reflects on the fact that the Proud Boys have a history of attacking, = of physically attacking people of color, women, LGBTQ folks. They have admitted, they admit that they want to physically harm  our fellow neighbors and citizens. 

Seamus Allen  

Right. 

Clifford Cawthon  

So we’re talking about the President of the United States seemingly nodding their head to what by all means is a domestic terrorist organization. And that’s, that’s, that’s terrifying to me.

Seamus Allen  

Of all the, you know, domestic terrorist groups in the United States, I think the FBI published a report where they’re like, almost all of the domestic terrorism in the united States is from the Proud Boys and similar right-wing groups.

Clifford Cawthon  

Precisely, yeah.

Seamus Allen  

So just to return a little bit to an earlier topic, you were talking about [the debate] as a train wreck. A lot of people have proposed somehow changing the format of the debate to counteract any sort of repeat or reuse of the same strategy or style? And is that something you’d like to see happen? And if so, what would you change?

Clifford Cawthon  

I’m honestly divided on that. I don’t know. Personally, at this time, I don’t know what format would be better. And I mean, there are other formats out there in terms of debate. However, I think on the one hand, I think having debates like that, as toxic as they are, they do serve a purpose of demonstrating not just the character, but also the policies, the temperament [of the candidates]. It puts on display the people who would be President of the United States. Or in Trump’s case, who is.

Seamus Allen  

That being said, I also think, in terms of the principle of the matter, and I completely understand the proposal, changing the format, and essentially, working within the parameters of what you have. But I think on the principle of it, it would be pardoning Trump’s behavior, because quite frankly, we deserve better. And I’m not saying that in a necessarily patriotic or ethnocentric way. I mean, that in a democracy, that we should be judging ideas, we should be having a discourse. We think of the marketplace of ideas, even if you are someone who finds classical liberal philosophy problematic, there is an importance of that there is importance of being able to agree to disagree, and to be able to have a civic discourse in which informs the people, and then the public can decide what vision do they want for their country, four years down the road, or for the foreseeable future? Policies are more consequential yet, so who knows, maybe for their, you know, for a good chunk of their lifetime, right? We, as a public should have the ability to have that display. Now, on the other hand, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to acknowledge how many debates have often, you know, have often become circuses for,  politicians to, to display to essentially, campaign, many debates have become almost extended campaign ads.

Clifford Cawthon  

However, there is some serious utility in them. And it puts the onus on the candidate to, to conduct themselves in the most presidential of ways. Right. And if we do not hold Trump, or Biden, or any other candidate to that standard, then what does that say about us?

Seamus Allen  

Absolutely –

Clifford Cawthon  

Let me put it this way – oh, sorry – go ahead.

Seamus Allen  

Oh, I was just gonna say, yeah, and one of the parts of that standard that we’re holding people to that’s been problematic has been the truth. We saw, Trump overwhelmingly  showed the most propensity to lie or distort the truth. But there were, you know, parts in there too where Biden was, you know, willing to exaggerate or you know, work facts to his advantage. And that’s something that isn’t really new to the Trump era. That’s been problematic in our debates, you know, for a long time and in our political discourse, but it seems as America has grown, grown more polarized, [it has] grown worse. And so at this point, how would you respond to the fact that debates don’t seem to even be painting an accurate picture of these ideas anymore? That, you know, Trump is out there actively saying that Biden is a socialist, right?

Clifford Cawthon  

Well, oh, my goodness, there’s so much to say there. So I have friends who have volunteered to call in to other states and to talk to voters in order to obviously persuade them to vote one way or the other. Right. And I have friends, you know, with the democrats and with, you know, the working families party, so left center, who call into states like South Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and you’ll hear the most off the wall, things that appeal to people’s fears. And I think that, my friend, is the key to, you know, was the key to addressing what is really wrong with debates. And that actually goes along with what I was saying about holding them to a higher standard. If I were to change the debates, in one way, I would, I would essentially make it so right then and there. You know, they could be cautioned. So almost like in soccer, where you get a red card, for potential for a violation, or, you know, there are different cards for violation, I would, you know, like, there to be some kind of ombudsman, some kind of Judge to so we hold up a red card and say, Hey, are you sure about this? You know, or that seems to be false. So, you know, that candidate can clarify their statements, so they can, you know, so they can make that case, and just leave it that, you know, but again, that’s, that’s just off the cuff. 

Clifford Cawthon  

That being said, to answer your question, in terms of cutting through that misinformation, the public can only attempt to defend themselves from misinformation by developing a culture that’s the opposite of what we have in America, which has a very anti intellectual culture. Instead of fact checking, it’s more, let me simply go to the echo chamber and reinforce my points of view. 

Clifford Cawthon  

When it comes to how we, how we process and how we digest information, we more often will go from the headlines. In other words, we’ll attempt to find intellectual shortcuts, and the format of technology and the format of media facilitates those shortcuts because. I don’t want to defer too much to the media, because in terms of our society, as a whole, we’re very de-politicized these days. It’s less about, ‘hey, how are you civically engaged?’ Are you taking responsibility for the community, your community, your state, your country, the world around you? Versus ‘Hey, how can I make a quick buck?’ And I can just stay in my house and worry about paying the mortgage, you know, paying the car bill, paying for health insurance, so on and so forth.  I wouldn’t even use the term de-politicized. Let me let me go back. I won’t say de-politicized, I would say disempowered, that our electorate is exceptionally disempowered. And I’ll just mean in terms of dozens of states that are making it harder to vote, but in terms of civic engagement, because civic engagement is power. Let me ask you, have you ever been to a city council meeting?

Seamus Allen  

I’ve actually been to quite a few for my local city of Carnation. But I’m, you know, maybe an abnormality there.

Clifford Cawthon  

You are. But the point is, they responded, right? When you spoke up, they responded when you asked them questions, because these are local legislators, they know that their election is on the line. And you know, if you extrapolate that to your members of Congress, okay, you vote for them. But more importantly, thinking about our elected judges can make us think about, you know, different, you know, different elected or service based elected positions… you’re not just fulfilling some kind of civic duty. What you’re doing is about power. You are shifting who has a say and who doesn’t, because I can tell you if anyone is ever curious about why it seems that it seems American politics is more conservative compared to many other countries I ask them, what is the average age of a voter in the United States? And who attends city council meetings? Who shows up in Congress, you know, on an off day, just on a random day of the week, right? Who is, you know, writing their senator, a member of Congress, who is showing up to the statehouse, who is going to, even local, neighborhood meetings, right? And I’m sure you kind of know where I’m going with this. They tend to be older, they tend to be whiter, they tend to be more male, they tend to be folks who either own their home and have some level of material, you know, comfort. They’re not the family that represents, you know, the diversity of this country, who’s holding down one or two jobs.

Seamus Allen  

You become less surprised about the state of our politics, when you realize that the person that the politicians are speaking to, right, the people who are going to vote for them are, on average, about 50 years old and white.

Clifford Cawthon  

And something to note, too. If millennials in generations. If Jen’s ears were to vote, we would overwhelmingly overwhelmingly vote baby boomers and Generation X voters. Just millennials alone would outvote you know, baby boomers. Right. Right. So my generation, I don’t know how old you are. But me, I’m in my 30s. If we were to just vote as an entire block, you know, and I mean, I’m not saying that there’s an insidious conspiracy on the part of old folks, right. This isn’t Hot Fuzz. Right. For those of you who have never seen that film, it’s hilarious. But if we were to just vote, the election would be, you know, the last few elections will look quite different. In fact, we did with President Obama in 2008. That was a generational vote. 

Seamus Allen  

It was about, you know, empowering young people. And that’s potentially a concern for Biden’s election because we don’t see him empowering that kind of generational vote the way Obama did.

Clifford Cawthon  

Yeah. I mean, I’ll say this: I feel like Biden’s campaign breathed a sigh of relief at the reception that particularly young folks of color had to Kamala Harris being tapped as vice president. Because when it comes to, so when it comes to Biden as a candidate, I think you’re absolutely right. People don’t necessarily just vote against something, they vote for something. So with Obama’s message that his message was about hope it was about empowerment. Clinton’s message, it was less so, it was a ‘don’t vote for the other guy, my coalition is the one that will take care of you.’ 

Seamus Allen  

Right. 

Clifford Cawthon  

And that didn’t resonate, particularly with white voters, with working class voters.

Clifford Cawthon  

Biden, I fear, his message is very derivative of that in some ways, but in other ways, Biden is attempting to, or the Biden and Democratic Party are attempting to learn from that. Kamala Harris presents a more hopeful response. I worked for the Washington State democrats in 2016. I actually met my fiance working for them in the coordinating campaign, so she tackled Eastern Washington. My turf was Pierce County, Thurston County, and the peninsula, so much bluer terf than hers. But one thing we learned in the process, and I mean, we were privy to what was happening nationally, you know, even though we’re working for a state party, we were privy to what was happening nationally. And, when it comes to Biden’s campaign, I believe that they are doing a lot more intentional outreach to the northern Midwest, to voters of color, and that kind of outreach in terms of priming the base and making sure your base turns out, that’s going to be the challenge. Because funnily enough, that’s exactly what Trump is doing. So Trump seems more radicalized in the last several months. It’s not just the kind of toxic negativity that’s often a part of his personality, He is specifically speaking to his base, right that way? So in this case, I don’t want to act as if I have a comprehensive analysis of all the investments Biden has made in his campaign, but it’s gonna be critical for him to mobilize voters of color, particularly black women, particularly young voters, but also voters of color as a whole, so young, old whatsoever. But also to mobilize in the terrain that Trump swung from was usually safe, democratic terrain, meaning the northern West. So, if Biden isn’t heavily going there, and also, I would say the fact that he’s leaning into his identity of living Scranton, and that identity of a working class voter.

Clifford Cawthon  

I hope that answered your question.

Seamus Allen  

Yeah, absolutely, you did. I’ll end on this: as a voter and more broadly, as a member of the political sphere, what are you looking for both in the vice presidential debate, and then the next presidential debate? What are you hoping for? What are you fearing?

Clifford Cawthon  

So I’ll be honest with you, that Kamala Harris, the way that it seemed that George W. Bush leaned on Dick Cheney, that Joe Biden is both have to lean on Kamala Harris because Kamala Harris is someone who, quite frankly, is many things that Joe Biden is not. She has a personal story that connects to a lot of the socio-economic issues that we’re facing. And I’m not just talking about her gender or the color of her skin. But during the Democratic presidential debate when she told her story about being a young girl during the desegregation, I remember seeing memes from friends, my peers and, you know, chatter through text and people texting me saying, Oh, my God, look at Biden’s face. Because even though Biden has been there, and even though he has, you know, made a number of progressive moves behind the scenes to promote women to promote folks of color, people correctly see him as part of the old guard, while Kamala Harris, on the other hand, is both in terms of her experiences and in terms of policy, what she stood for during the campaign. She is someone who will hopefully bring in those, you know, the range of voters that have made up the Obama coalition, and will hopefully make up a coalition like that.

Clifford Cawthon  

But more importantly, what I’m fascinated to see is how Mike Pence follows up Donald Trump. Because the interesting thing here is that Mike Pence does not have the same style, he is very different from Trump in terms of style, not necessarily in terms of his beliefs, but he is far more measured, he’s less bombastic, less prone to attacks, more prone to trying to double down on religious values and conservative values and to come in to contrast that to the quote unquote, chaos of the left. Whereas with Kamala Harris, what I’m expecting is that she is going to play up a number of Trump’s more authoritarian tendencies, but also talk about and in many ways try to accomplish what Biden did not attempt to get the buy in from all of the voters that either feel bewildered by Trump, or against Trump, or can be persuaded. But I hope that she does understand that that can only happen to a limit, I think that’s the Democratic Party’s Achilles heel, that in this polarized environment, the big tent model is increasingly falling apart, there’s increasing misalignment, with, you know, many of the major political parties, that as people are going further to the right and liberals are going to the left on issues like health care on issues like workers rights, and especially on racial justice, there is a line. And, you know, making that very fine case, is going to be their goal. 

Clifford Cawthon  

So, yeah, I’m fascinated to see what’s going on for this second presidential debate. I’ve got to throw up my hands and say, I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know one thing that both camps are going to go back in, they’re going to refine their strategy, they’re not going to double down. There certainly won’t be a repeat. But it will be, it will be tense, there will be more tension. So let me put it this way to put it in geeky terms. You have Godzilla King of the Monsters, and that was good. That hit all the points you need to hit. But Godzilla versus Kong, on the other hand, needs to be bigger, as in the second and third and fourth presidential debates will be bigger. I can assure you of that.

Seamus Allen  

Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time. You’ve been wonderfully informative. And your expertise is just just very clear. So thank you so much.

Clifford Cawthon  

No problem. Have a good evening.

Seamus Allen

You as well

Clifford Cawthon  

Peace

Seamus Allen

Peace

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