About Tonight’s Debate
FINALLY, tonight we get to see President Trump and Joe Biden square off in a debate, the first of three scheduled debates.
We should be treated to plenty of fireworks, even though the live audience will be limited.
The discussion points will include Trump’s handling of the COVID pandemic, what Biden might have done differently, the economic depression and high unemployment, riots in American cities, the Supreme Court nomination and many other headline-grabbing issues.
Will the debate’s outcome influence voters?
Probably not much. Most people already have a clear idea of who they support.
For example, most people either love Trump or hate him, and they’re not going to change their minds based on some debating point.
The research is actually clear — debates may be entertaining, but they don’t change votes.
There is one issue though that could have an impact: Will Biden’s cognitive decline be a factor?
Non Compos Mentis
Many voters might not like Trump, but they’re not ready to elect a mentally incompetent man for the most important job in the world.
The following analysis is not partisan, but an objective evaluation of the facts. I take no delight in discussing a man’s mental failings. And you’re free to vote for whomever you want.
But Joe Biden’s decline can no longer be denied. It’s obvious he can’t form coherent thoughts or sentences.
He can’t think on his feet or answer unscripted questions, especially complex questions. His public appearances are few and carefully controlled (including waving at non-existent crowds as he disembarks from a private plane).
Yet, he is still ahead in the polls both nationally and in key battleground states and has a good chance of being elected president.
How is this possible, especially in the 21st century, when 24/7 media saturation is the norm?
It would be impossible to pull off without a complicit media.
“Way Beyond” Simple Media Bias
The media dutifully ignores Biden’s sham campaign, refuses to ask him tough questions or point out his inconsistencies, all the while condemning Trump’s slightest miscues (don’t get me wrong, Trump’s made many and is in many ways his own worst enemy).
This goes way beyond simple media bias. The media’s hatred of Trump is so overpowering that they have abandoned any pretense of journalistic ethics and are simply involved in an all-out attack on him.
If this means covering up and playing along with Biden’s mental deficiencies, so be it. Of course, this is bad for journalism. But, it’s also bad for democracy, because the exercise of freedom to vote has always depended on freedom of the press and the willingness of the press to hold politicians on both sides accountable.
That balance of accountability is now gone. Ultimately, it’s bad for the nation as a whole.
When journalism is debased, and one party is not subject to any accountability, the failure of democracy quickly becomes the failure of social order and the country itself.
I’ve been warning my readers for months that the coming presidential election will not be about democracy. It will be about lawyers, judges and fights over the electoral process itself.
Both the Trump and Biden campaigns have hired over 300 lawyers, each ready to jump into court in any of the battleground states on a moment’s notice to brawl over keeping polls open, setting up temporary polling places, demanding “drop boxes” for late mail-in ballots and fighting about the mail-in voting process itself.
The media has essentially suggested that the Post Office was stacking the deck against mail-in ballots to help Trump. And the courts are beginning to weigh in.
For example, a state court judge in Pennsylvania has ordered state officials to count mail-in ballots that arrive as late as three days after the election.
Bear in mind, this election is likely to be a nail-biter, and Pennsylvania is perhaps the single most important state in terms of the likely close vote and the large number of electoral votes it has.
This means that we may not know an election winner for days after Election Day.
And, that gives even more time for lawyers to intervene in other courts and other states to cloud the process even further.
But Pennsylvania is not the only state where the war over mail-in ballots and the conduct of the presidential election has already begun…
Should One Minor Judge Be Allowed to Rule National Policy?
A separate legal skirmish with nationwide implications also broke out in Washington State.
A group of Democratic Attorneys General and Democratic Washington State officials sued Donald Trump, the U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, and the U.S. Postal Services to demand that certain procedures designed to improve the efficiency of mail collection be halted and that all mail-in ballots be treated as first-class mail regardless of the postage actually paid.
Other post office actions were demanded as well. The judge (an Obama appointee) not only gave all the relief requested by the plaintiffs, but he also issued a nationwide injunction that applies to the entire U.S. Postal Service and all fifty states, not just Washington State where the court has jurisdiction.
In effect, a judge in a small city in Washington has effectively taken over the U.S. Postal Service with regard to its handling of a U.S. presidential election.
This won’t be the end of the case.
“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”
The Trump administration and the Postal Service can appeal on grounds that the case should have been brought before a special postal claims tribunal rather than the Federal district courts.
The U.S. Supreme Court has been pushing back against nationwide injunctions instead of injunctions that are limited to the state in which the district court is located.
This decision may be overturned. Still, it won’t be the last such case; it’s among the first of many.
This legal warfare (so-called lawfare) will continue from now until Election Day and well beyond.
As Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Yogi was talking about baseball. But, the saying applies to politics also. In the case of this Election Day, the election won’t be over till it’s over.
And, even then, the court battles (and battles in the streets) may drag on longer than anyone expects.
This is one more bit of chaos on the horizon that stock markets have not yet properly priced.
I recommend you reduce your exposure to the stock market and increase your cash holdings to prepare.
You should also have gold and silver to protect your wealth against the coming chaos.
It’s already been a wild year. And it could get even wilder before it’s over.
for The Daily Reckoning