President Trump partook in a town hall with undecided voters at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this past Tuesday. This was sponsored by ABC News and moderated by George Stephanopoulos. The participants asked him questions on important issues like the pandemic, law and order, health care and immigration. This setting was different from his rallies in that it was a more intimate setting (participants were tested for COVID-19, spread apart across the room and were wearing masks) and did not contain the admiration and applause that typically accompanies the large crowds of people that come to see him in arenas. While I do give credit to Trump for doing the town hall since Biden had not done this at that point, there are important takeaways that I found important.
It seemed as if the President kept using the same talking points that he has with almost every media outlet and repeated himself several times throughout the town hall. While he blames mostly China and the Democrats, there was no accountability for his actions and the failures of him and those that he likes in his administration. Sure, it is correct that China is to blame for the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is also blame to go around to the federal government, CDC and the WHO for not taking this seriously in the beginning and creating so much uncertainty with how we should handle the presence of the coronavirus. In addition, Trump continues to maintain a false sense of reality, not only saying that he has done more for the country than anyone with issues in which he has miserably failed, but also with statements that he has said in the past that have been recorded. I am specifically referring to his comments about Senator John McCain at the beginning of his campaign for the 2016 election as well as his interviews with Bob Woodward (there is enough blame to go around between Woodward and Trump, but that’s a different story for a different day). Trump also said that he has never had a problem with race, but seems to conveniently forget that he has said disparaging comments about the Central Park Five and had a housing discrimination lawsuit against one of his company’s housing developments in the past.
It is ironic that Trump ran on the credo that he was going to “drain the swamp” and that his appeal was that he was anti-establishment and not a typical politician. However, I noticed that most responses to the voters’ question did not contain a plan to move forward, which can be typical of politicians. He spouted his opinions about issues and what has been done in the past. While it’s important to focus on what was done previously to show how he thinks his administration is a stable, well-oiled machine, it is also important to point out the future plans you have for your citizens.
I am not surprised by any means that the town hall ended up being combative between Trump and Stephanopoulos as well as Trump and the undecided voters. Alycee Block, one of the undecided voters from Philadelphia, had interrupted and asked him firmly to let her finish her question. I think it was appropriate for her to interrupt him as she felt as if he was not listening to her. This should be the way that constituents should speak to their elected officials if they feel that their government has failed them. He seems to forget that America is for the people and by the people. I also appreciated Pastor Carl Day’s questioning as he stood firm in his beliefs and what he wanted to ask President Trump. I understand the appeal that he is not a typical politician, but there is a time and place. This was not the time nor the place; he wouldn’t be such a divisive figure if he acted presidential more often.
Lastly, I think that George Stephanopoulos did a fantastic job moderating the town hall. While I may not completely agree with him politically, I appreciate his ability to fact check Trump in real time. I think that this sets a precedent for the moderators in the upcoming debates to fact check both candidates in real time, take them to task for any misinformation and keep the debate on track with cold, hard facts.
(Picture Courtesy of Freepik)