Thursday night is the last chance President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have to make their case on the debate stage. And while the microphones can now be muted, there's one message they must still get across: with me, you will be safe.
Here's why those four words are so important and mean so much.
No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, you likely feel the same emotion right now: fear. And more than anything, we need to be reassured.
We need to know that it’s all going to be OK. That we can wake up after the election is decided, breathing a long-needed sigh of relief.
And so, for both Trump and Biden, the message must be the same. But what it means coming for each of them will be totally different. Let's start with the president and then move on to the Democratic presidential nominee.
For Trump, he must convince us that as individuals we will be safe. We want a politician at the helm that will protect us from big, bureaucratic government. Give us the tools and let us make the decisions that are right for each of us and our families.
-Protect my money. I work hard for it. I don’t want to give it to the government and have them decide how to spend it. Keep my taxes as low as possible.
-Protect my freedom of speech. I want to be able to say what I want to post what I want and worship the way I want. I want to share my opinions free from judgment.
-Protect my right to bear arms. I’m scared of what might happen and I want the right to protect my home and family.
-Protect my community and city. I want a police force that can do their job.
-Protect my jobs. I know times are hard. I have heard politicians say that jobs aren’t coming back to the USA. Prove them wrong.
-Protect this economy. When you took office, everyone said the stock market would tank. The economy would be in shambles, and yet I feel better today than I did four years ago even with a pandemic. Keep this economy going. And whatever you do, don’t shut down the economy again. I couldn’t take it.
-Protect my vote. Mail-in ballots leave room for fraud. I believe the system could be rigged against me. Let’s vote the old-fashioned way to make sure that every vote that is counted is legitimate.
-Protect my dreams and my opportunity. I might be struggling now, but I want the American dream to be there. I want to be wealthy. I want unlimited opportunities and I don’t want to apologize for it.
For Biden, he must convince us that our institutions and our government will be safe.
We want a politician at the helm who restores a sense of order to the chaos. We want to trust that the system works for all of us and protects us when we need it. We want it to work for all Americans, not just a few.
-Protect us from COVID. Follow the science. Require masks. Do whatever it takes. We can’t fight COVID alone. This is exactly what a strong and healthy government is designed to do.
-Protect our health care system. From public health to my medical care, we have a right to health care.
-Protect us from greed. We are tired of putting profits before people on issues from climate change to basic regulation, let’s just do what’s right.
-Protect equality. It’s unfair that the wealthy get wealthier while everyone else struggles. Let’s create a tax structure that benefits those less fortunate and taxes those who can most afford it.
-Protect us from wrongs. From systemic racism to systemic inequality, we want all people treated fairly.
-Protect our image around the world. I used to be proud to be an American no matter where I went. Today, I am embarrassed. Please, restore our reputation overseas.
-Protect my vote. I believe voter interference is real. I worry about foreign interference in the election. I also worry about what’s happening here at home. I want to know that my vote will be counted.
-Protect our institutions. I want to trust the CDC. The Supreme Court. The FBI. National Security. Protect the office of the presidency itself. Protect us from the crazy. More than anything, I want to turn on the news and be bored. Restore order to the office.
One thing is clear, Americans everywhere are afraid. And with so many good reasons.
What is going to assuage our fears depends on the way we view the world.
A lot is at stake at the ballot box. And with just 12 days until Election Day, we need to know that whoever we vote for is going to make us feel safe again.