Former president and 2024 candidate Donald Trump was once again absent from the second GOP primary debate on Sept. 27. Of course, his failure to attend did not go unaddressed by his fellow Republican candidates when they took to the debate stage.
Trump was indicted on four federal counts for unlawful actions he allegedly perpetrated before, during and after his time in office. These include business fraud for “hush money” Trump paid to adult film star Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford, willful retention and mishandling of classified government documents at his Mar-A-Lago residence in Florida, fraudulent election interference in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 presidential election and interference in the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden and spread misinformation that incited the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021.
Gov. Chris Christie, whose campaign cornerstone is denouncing Trump, was the first to call out the former president for his absence. When asked about who voters should blame in the event of a government shutdown, he commented on the rising inflation that resulted from immense government spending by both the Trump ($7.8 trillion) and Biden ($5.39 trillion and counting) administrations.
“He put $7 trillion on the debt,” Christie said. “He should be in this room to answer those questions for the people you talk about who are suffering.”
Surprisingly, Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the former president and said he was “missing in action” after being slow to intensify his condemnation of Trump’s actions throughout his presidential campaign.
“He should be on this stage tonight,” DeSantis said. “He owes it to you to defend his record.”
Never in a million years did I think I would agree with DeSantis on any issue, but I do agree with this: Trump deserves to face the people of the United States and answer for his contributions to our country’s current state, not just economically as Christie pointed out, but socially and politically as well.
Trump has created even stronger divides between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, causing a sharp increase in political polarization.
“This guy has not only divided our party, he’s divided families all over this country,” Christie said.
In 2020, 10 voters were interviewed by Reuters, five Trump supporters and five Biden backers, and it was found that “few could see the wrecked personal relationships caused by Trump’s tenure fully healing.”
In addition to his sharpening of ideological divides, Trump’s behavior since his 2016 presidential campaign has fostered a culture that disregards political decorum and transparency with a representative’s constituency, particularly in the Republican party.
Trump has been uncivilized on the national stage, such as his interrupting and yelling at Biden during the presidential debates in 2020. He has also lied to the American people on many occasions, including when he claimed COVID-19 was “under control” in early 2020.
These Trump-isms can be seen in the actions of current Republican politicians. During the State of the Union address in January, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene yelled “Liar!” at Biden, followed up by more cries from her fellow Republican lawmakers.
Rep. George Santos came under fire in December 2022 for falsifying most of his resume, including claiming to be the star player of the Baruch College volleyball team — a college he did not attend. He is now under investigation for several counts including wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.
Regardless of the detriment that was Trump’s presidency, I cannot say I don’t think he will win the primary. His absences are insignificant. He isn’t missing out on key debate time that would mean the difference between his or another candidate’s nomination because he doesn’t need it.
Trump’s cult-like following will more than likely vote for their leader to face Biden next November. The candidates on the stage last Wednesday are merely auditioning for the position of Vice President, with the exception of Christie.
I’m banking on Trump choosing Vivek Ramaswamy to be his running mate. The entrepreneur has consistently praised Trump and has gained favor with younger voters on TikTok even though he has hypocritically expressed his plan to ban the platform if he became president.
Two days after skipping the GOP debate, Trump spoke at the GOP convention in California. If the former president is going to address Republicans at their convention, he should be able to address them on a debate stage.
It is time that Trump stops being a “Donald Duck,” as Christie so eloquently put it, and answers to the American people — he will have to if he wins the nomination. Why not get some practice in by dusting off the old toupée and interrupting some of his fellow Republicans?