Going Virtual: The Coward and the Cheater

~ 4 minutes read

This morning, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the next debate will be held virtually. 

Here’s a breakdown of the narratives

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced today that the second Presidential debate will be held virtually. President Trump has said that he will not be wasting his time with the event. The Biden campaign says the former VP will participate. 

To the left, this is an obvious and necessary move. President Trump just got out of the hospital with COVID, posing a risk to everyone involved. In addition, his conduct at the last debate demonstrated the need for more moderator control, and a virtual setting can allow for just that. 

While many on the left are indeed emphasizing the “health and safety” aspect and the need for moderator control, many are also focusing on the cowardice of the President’s decision to not participate:



To the left, the President is a coward. Without the ability to interrupt and steamroll the debate, it will be obvious to Americans that the emperor has no clothes.

To the right, this decision screams corruption. The Commission is protecting their preferred candidate, Joe Biden, from losing yet another debate.

The right, in line with a broader narrative of establishment corruption, is emphasizing the risk of Biden’s campaign cheating with teleprompters and other methods of support, as well as the risk of meddling by a biased moderator:



To the right, this is simply another instance of the establishment trying to meddle in the election—as they’ve been doing with mail-in ballots, the kangaroo-court impeachment, and the Russian collusion hoax. Don’t forget that the Obama administration spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign, and so it’s no surprise that the Former Vice President is attempting to yet again manipulate and undermine the election.

Safety First

“Health and safety” is a powerful theme. And for the past few decades, teachers, politicians, companies, etc, have all been echoing its mantra—safety first.

So given that “health and safety” has such broad, bipartisan cultural gravity, it’s no surprise that political narratives draw on the theme. 

Trump is a health hazard of every sort. He’s an overweight, snake-oil-selling mask-skeptic. He’s already caused the death of 200,000 Americans, so we need to keep him away from his opposing candidate (and hopefully the White House)—not only for Biden’s health and safety but for our own.

But on the other hand:

Biden is a dead-man walking. The DNC is Weekend-At-Bernie’s-ing a 78-year-old geriatric to the White House for their own political ends—and playing every dirty trick to get him there. For our health and safety the American people have to see how he stands up under the pressure of debate before he gets in a room with Xi Jinping and Putin.


Again, regardless of the truth, these are the kinds of stories and themes that constitute powerful political narratives, and we would do well to see them for what they are—great stories.


That’s all for now.


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Notable tweets and amplifiers







Also, well done to Ryan, who saw much of this coming from a mile away: