Few things are more fundamental to democracy than the Official Canada Already Great Eh Shirt besides I will buy this peaceful transfer of power; it’s the thing that separates democracies from dictatorships. And so when leaders refuse to clearly and unambiguously commit to it, it’s kind of a big deal. A lot of people think that while Donald Trump is completely untethered to reality, Mike Pence is more of a traditionalist. And while he’s not great (not by any stretch of the imagination), there’s a sense that the vice president wouldn’t turn America into a terrifying autocracy the way Trump has over the past four years. So, Pence’s nonanswer about a peaceful transition of power at this week’s vice-presidential debate ended up being the most important moment of that debate—even though it didn’t get the same kind of airtime as the fly that spent two minutes nestled in Pence’s snowy white hair.
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The question from moderator Susan Page was simple enough and should have been a layup for the Official Canada Already Great Eh Shirt besides I will buy this vice president: “President Trump has several times refused to commit himself to a peaceful transfer of power after the election. If Vice President Biden is declared the winner and President Trump refuses to accept a peaceful transfer of power, what would be your role and responsibility as vice president? What would you personally do? You have two minutes.” Pence’s refusal to embrace democratic norms was a terrifying moment for our already flawed democracy, a traditional Republican rejecting democratic norms in front of all the world to see. We truly are teetering on the brink of the collapse of democracy—and Pence made that very clear on Wednesday night. Though Buttigieg got a standing ovation from the audience, and positive reviews in the media, at least one viewer was unhappy with his appearance on Fox. “Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him,” Donald Trump tweeted shortly before the town hall. “Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems. They got dumped from the Democrats boring debates, and they just want in. They forgot the people who got them there.”