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An epocal clash: Biden vs Trump

On the night between 29 and 30 September, the first debate between the two candidates for the presidency of the United States was held in Cleveland, Ohio: the incumbent President Donald Trump and the Democratic challenger Joe Biden. More than a duel it was a clash without shared rules and with continuous overlapping of voices, even insults, that the two challengers exchanged each other. The American media spoke of “chaos” where the losers were mainly the public. Trump’s fault who continually interrupted his rival, Biden’s fault who focused only on pointing out the errors and inadequacy of the president in office and also the fault of the mediator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, unable to take in hand, with security, the reins of the debate.

CNN’s Jake Tapper called the confrontation “a disgrace”, while his colleague Dana Bash was even less diplomatic, bluntly calling it “a shit show.” If this concerns the “form”, that is a first general perception of the debate, let’s now try to delve into the “contents” of what happened, that is, in that profound dimension, often not immediately perceptible, which concerns emotions, values, style, the strengths and weaknesses of the two challengers.

Competition is a powerful engine, a founding part of Anglo-Saxon and Protestant culture, a connotating and rewarding element of American society. But like all engines it also has its weakness, which we will see later. On the other hand, Joe Biden, the challenger rests his entire communication strategy on the archetypal concept of “collaboration”. Collaboration with the scientific community, with the Atlantic allies, with his party of which he is only one of the exponents and probably not even the most famous or the most successful.

Collaboration, empathy and a sense of “we” are Trump’s most insidious adversary, accustomed instead only to winning, to excel and to be alone against everyone; this is his powerful, creative, amazing strength but also his greatest weakness. It is said that a true winner must also be capable of losing.
Joe Biden lost his wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972 and another son, Beau, to a brain tumor in 2015. These tremendous personal losses are, paradoxically, also his greatest strength, because only those who he fell, he suffered the hard blows of life and got up again, he manages to connect with credibility to the life of each of us.
Trump’s economic or foreign policy achievements are unquestionable, his ability to see roads where others fail and to transmit courage and pride for his country were the secret of his first election. As well as, on the other hand, the volatile and opaque management of the pandemic crisis and some rather reckless public outings, represent the most evident weaknesses of his work.

The news of his positivity to the virus can be read as a sort of “law of retaliation”, a mocking revenge of fate, but it could also prove to be a great opportunity and an unexpected opportunity. To win this challenge, Trump will have to talk about the future and choices for his country, to give strength and continuity to what good has been done, but above all he will have to show himself more human, with the right amount of concern, open to the help of others, willing to tune in more deeply with the anxieties and concerns of the electorate.
If he continues to scornfully attack his challenger on a personal level and proves unable to express respect and sensitivity towards defeats or difficulties, in a historical moment where so many people experience physical and psychological loss, fatigue and wounds, Trump will give Biden. the opportunity, arguments and votes to win.

On the other hand, if Biden proves unable, despite his personal history of resilience, to indicate economic alternatives, design horizons of innovation and suggest concrete actions capable of arousing attention and proving to be attractive, he will give Trump the opportunity for the second election to the White House.

By Domenico Greco

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