“It’s not the chaos, but the dark and hostile tone.”
Toshihiro Nakayama, one of Japan’s most famous TV political commentators, has covered America’s two Donald Trump elections. In 2016, in surprise, he stopped commentary for more than a minute when the race was called for Trump – a major pause for national television.
|Wolf Blitzer on Election Night 2016 | CNN screenshot
His discussion of election night 2020 at a recent Korbel School Zoom forum was illuminating. A guest of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at DU, Toshi Zoomed in from Japan.
- The Japanese election night audience and commentators expected Trump to lose after mishandling the coronavirus and the normal election intelligence; i.e., polls, forecasts, etc., but the closeness, especially early in the evening, was a surprise.
- But the bigger difference with 2016 was not the chaos of the election because American democracy is chaotic, but the dark and hostile tone – the uncivil language; the conspiratorial and aggressive social media, tweets and retweets; the bullying first debate; and the hostile rhetoric at rallies.
- If you had a child watching in 2008, it was a celebration of democracy and America’s social progress. You wanted them to miss 2020.
|John King on Election Night 2020 | CNN screenshot