Candidates debate, others disagree

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 was the first of a few days that decided who would lead the nation and deal with the threat of COVID-19. Democratic candidate and former Vice President, Joe Biden, and Republican candidate and current president, Donald Trump, battled it out in debates, their campaigns, and in the polls in order to be voted into office.

Former Vice President Biden states on his campaign website that his primary vision is to rebuild the middle class, calling it the “backbone of the country.” His campaign site explains his plans to create jobs, provide all types of government with aid, and extend COVID-19 crisis unemployment insurance, all in an effort to revert the American economy to how it was before COVID-19. 

Trump’s plans to achieve his America First platform include lowering taxes for American citizens, repealing and replacing Obamacare, protecting American borders, and strengthening military and law enforcement. 

The presidential debates are major events meant to present the candidates views directly to the public. Although three were supposed to occur, the second debate was cancelled due to Trump recovering from COVID-19. 

During the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, Trump and Biden gave their views and plans surrounding issues such as climate change, COVID-19 relief, economic relief and race. 

Both candidates were mainly focused on attacking each other. During the COVID-19 discussion of the debate, Biden referred to Trump saying, “it is what it is,” in response to the COVID-19 death toll last summer.

It is what it is because you are who you are. That’s why it is. The president has no plan,” Biden said.

During the race discussion of the debate, both claimed the other did not care about Black lives. Biden brought up the specific death tolls of Black Americans.

Trump responded by talking about Biden’s support of the 1994 Crime Bill, a bill which ended up increasing incarcerations of Black men. 

“You have treated the Black community about as bad as anybody in this country,” Trump said.

Trump was regarded by moderator Chris Wallace, a Fox News anchor, as being too interruptive during the debate. Wallace had to repeatedly ask him to remain quiet as candidate Biden answered the different debate questions. 

“Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Wallace said to Trump after the president claimed that Biden had also been interruptive. 

During one of Trump’s interruptions, Biden expressed his frustration with the president’s actions with a phrase that was briefly available as a shirt on Biden’s campaign shop after the debate due to its popularity among Biden supporters.

“Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential,” Biden said. 

Philip Glenn, a senior identifying as left-leaning, did not feel that the debate had much significance.

“It wasn’t even a debate. They were literally just interrupting each other the entire time,” Glenn said. 

The second and final debate occurred on Oct. 22 and was moderated by Kristen Welker, a White House correspondent, who explained that, due to previous interruptions in the last debate, candidate’s microphones would be turned off while the other was speaking.

In the first section of the debate, Trump declared that a vaccine for COVID-19 would be released soon.

“We have a vaccine that’s coming, it’s ready. It’s going to be announced within a few weeks,” Trump said.

After the moderator asked Trump if this was a guarantee, he replied that it was not. 

“No, it’s not a guarantee, but it will be by the end of the year,” Trump said. 

During the issue of race, Trump declared the same opinion he did in the first debate, that no one had done more for the Black community than him, claiming himself to be “the least racist person in this room.” 

“No one has done more for the Black community, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said.

Biden followed up that statement by claiming the opposite.

“Abraham Lincoln here is the most racist president,” Biden said. 

Later, Biden attacked Trump for the separations of illegal immigrant children from their families. 

“Who built the cages, Joe?” Trump said in reference to the holding cells of illegal immigrants built during the Obama Administration. 

Although the debates are meant to be important events leading up to the election, some feel that they have lost their value this year. 

Mr. Kurt Erickson, an AP Government teacher who enjoys closely following politics, expressed his surprise at the organization of the debates. 

“It’s almost like for entertainment purposes, as opposed to really kind of watching to see where they stand on the issues and how they conduct themselves.” Erickson said. 

Erickson felt that one reason was because most voters have already made up their minds. 

“I feel like because we’re so polarized, events leading up to the election aren’t really as significant as they have [been] in the past. I truly feel that our voters are pretty much set one way or the other,” Erickson said. 

Erickson cited that as of Oct. 27, over 60 million people had voted early. This is almost half of the 138 million total votes casted in the 2016 election, according to the Penn State University Libraries. 

“From all the years that I have followed politics, I have never, ever seen anything like that. I would say the blame goes to both sides on that,” Erickson said.