Take out the boxing gloves

With less than two months of D-Day, our coverage of the US election campaign has intensified. Columnist Philippe Cantin – passionate about American politics – will be writing a column every Wednesday on the ups and downs of the hot struggle among our southern neighbors.

Posted on Sep 16, 2020 at 5:00 am

Philippe Cantin

In her speech at the Democratic Congress in 2016, Michelle Obama explained her family’s motto in the face of vicious attacks by political opponents: “When they go low, we go high,” she said. No, not a question of sinking into their level, not a question of bullshit game, not a question of intimidation. In the face of insults, let’s turn the debate upwards, while respecting the best of American values.

Two months later, during the second presidential debate against Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton remembered the dignified and noble words of the First Lady of the United States. How can you not admire such a broad mind, how can you not be inspired by this chivalrous attitude? Fight to the end, yeah But loyal, with respect for his rivals.


Hillary Clinton in August 2016

During this time, Trump has multiplied the abuse and false accusations. This tornado of lies had its effect: during their speeches, their supporters sang a slogan calling for the democratic candidate to be arrested. An election campaign in the USA has never fallen so low.

Far from paying the price for his indecency, Trump won the election. And found with satisfaction that the rivers of bile foaming from his mouth were a key to his success.

Millions of Americans admired the real estate mogul’s booming style. He wouldn’t stop there. He has proven it daily for four years on Twitter, where his insults are innumerable.


Donald Trump, President of the United States, takes off Air Force One towards Philadelphia

This reality poses a problem for Democrats today. How can you hit Trump back with bite without falling so low? How can you maintain your dignity without colliding in front of that steamroller? Because if they take the blows without resetting them, many voters will see it as an admission of weakness. Fair play cannot be entirely resolved with a win on November 3rd.


At first glance, Joe Biden isn’t the ideal candidate for sending Trump shots. As a respectable and respected man, his openness to others determines his political career. Everyone thinks they are “good guys”. The sharp line that is likely to be repeated in the media is not his specialty.

With his experience and knowledge of the subject, Biden is made to be a president. But does he have the profile of a good candidate in this time when the political discourse is flush with the daisies? Is he strong enough to withstand two months of heavy attacks and throw a few punches as well? We will see. But let’s be honest, he’s got off to a good start.


Joe Biden, United States Democratic Presidential Candidate

Biden gave initial evidence of this in his speech at the Democratic Congress by attacking Trump in a combative tone and imbued with open authority.

It is one thing to deliver a text with verve that consultants have been working on for a long time. Responding to the insane news of an election campaign day in and day out is another matter. And this time, Biden isn’t the only one surprising. The democratic machine and all of its allies are accelerating.

We saw it earlier this month after posting an article in The Atlantic. Editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg argued that Trump made fun of American soldiers who were killed in action, calling them “losers” and “fools”. Biden quickly marked his territory. Although the allegations were not proven, he butchered Trump in a heated speech in which he recalled his son Beau’s service in Iraq.

His words were harsh: Trump, he said, lacks the moral fiber to be in command of the armies.

An aggressive advertisement was also produced, overlaying Trump’s words on moving images: American military cemetery, soldiers in a solemn ceremony, the funeral of Republican senator and war hero John McCain … This powerful montage illustrated that Biden and his camp did not would not be satisfied with defensive play for the next few weeks.

Ads like this irritate Trump. He called one of them “vicious” on Twitter on Sunday. As an expert on these kinds of comments themselves, as evidenced by the apocalyptic future he foretells in the United States if Biden is elected, the Democrats arguably took his observation as a tribute.


In 2016, Hillary Clinton herself became a central theme in the elections. Her use of a private e-mail server, her handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya when she was foreign minister, and the hostility it aroused among part of the electorate – partly because she was a woman who was under the highest responsibility aspired – contributed to their defeat in key states. It cost her the presidency even though she won the referendum.

In 2020, Biden must turn this election into a referendum on Trump, who is far from defeated and will fight fiercely until the end. But his four years in the Oval Office, along with revelations in the books of his former National Security Adviser John Bolton and reporter Bob Woodward, as well as in the Atlantic, are already ample material for the Democrats to go on strike there.

In an ideal world, the debate about ideas would be at the center of this campaign. But Trump derailed American politics. To beat him, we need to return the favor a little. Angelism and good intentions will not be enough. Sometimes “when they go low” you need to take out your boxing gloves.