Think About It: In search of what is important

The debate held June 27 featuring President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump was unlike anything I have ever seen. Biden tanked in a muddle of incomplete and inadequate responses as if his primary objectives were to confirm the Republican’s best hope and the Democrat’s worst fears that he was a feeble old man.

Biden’s performance flop was a surprise. What does it mean when a person animates with a teleprompter and flounders without it; instead, turning in as if trying to read his own mind?

His performance was so bad it initiated distressed hand-wringing on the part of Democrats and unrestrained glee on the part of Republicans. Editorials have been written urging Biden to withdraw as a candidate for president. Biden’s capacity to do the job is under serious questioning.

Trump did his best delivery of a man who will lie, say and do anything to convince Americans that America is a terrible place made worse by the men, women and children crossing the southern border to rape, murder and take “black jobs” and doctors who kill full-term babies at will among other things.

Those examples were only a small part of a diatribe of ugly characterizations that reached far beyond the bonds of political gamesmanship.

His glorification of his own presidency went far beyond the bonds of hyperbole as well as being devoid of any factual examples. But then, we know this is Trump — for which he makes no apologies.

Someone who hates his country as much as Trump does should withdraw from the race. Many things about America are working. I thought no editorial writer was listening until someone posted the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial saying Trump, not Biden, should withdraw.

We are in a new and ill-defined environment of elections, politics and policies. Substance is more like vapor falling through our fingers.

How could it get any worse?

Presidential character and capacity

We are learning it could get worse.

If we are to be responsible voters, we need to vote our values on the character of the candidates as well as the platform or policies that will impact our life and the lives of our children.

That imperative grew to a red alarm the morning the Supreme Court ruled on presidential immunity.

Early in the day, the Supreme Court issued its opinion related to presidential immunity. They ruled that the president has absolute immunity when exercising his/her core constitutional powers. Immunity is presumed for the remaining official acts of the president.

In essence, as I understand it, the president will have greater powers than ever before especially around what the president can claim is an official act. The example given by those who fear absolute power the most is a president’s ordering the investigation of opponents or in the extreme, the imprisonment of an opponent on the president’s word even without evidence if he/she says it is for national security.

That interpretation means the character of America’s president is an even greater consideration especially for those prone to using presidential power to interfere in elections or election results to retain power.

Vision and policy

Think about the implications of policy and the underlying vision. Do the homework. Vision and policies are best reviewed through the platform of the political parties, the two primaries being Republicans or GOP and Democrats.

Readers are doing their homework and wrote to tell me they thought certain policies deserved more attention than I gave them. Not surprisingly, they were the most controversial policies. with Republicans and Democrats holding widely different visions and views.

I will start with access to abortion services. Supreme Court justices effectively allowed abortions to be banned by states when it ended protections of access under Roe vs. Wade.

States began passing restrictions that set limits to the gestation period under which abortions could occur if at all and whether any exceptions, especially those for rape, incest and the life of the mother would be applied.

Democrats value the science of pregnancies, medical best practices and preserving the rights and health of the mother. Republicans claim the only value is the life created at the time of conception, a value that limits if not eliminates any discussion.

Another policy is around the right to bear arms covered under the second amendment. The controversy is around the process of becoming a gun owner and access to guns like assaults rifles that have no practical value except killing more people with less effort.

Republicans value unrestricted access and open carry of any type of gun to “law-abiding” citizens as a constitutional right. Democrats value background checks for all gun purchases and banning guns such as assault rifles as a means of reducing the number of gun deaths.

The final policy focus from readers and for this column is “climate change” and “restoring and preserving our environment.”

The Republican platform refers to “radical environmentalists” and “environmental extremists” and the “illusion of an environmental crisis” based on “shoddy science.” Republicans value less climate related action and regulation as a means of protecting businesses and personal lives.

The Democratic platform accepts the science that warns of severe consequences of a warming earth such as increasing natural weather disasters, points to the role of carbon emissions and supports regulations to reduce emissions and grow the use of clean energy. Democrats value intervention in, and prevention of climate warming as a means of protecting businesses and personal lives.

The contrast of underlying visions is stark. We have a big responsibility to be clear in our direction to leaders with our vote. What do we value? What is most important to us when one of the party’s values conflicts with another? What do we vote for? What do we vote against? What do we want our leaders to do?

I am grateful to the readers who responded to my call for input and will address more in future columns.

Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at