The Debates That Determine Our Future


AFP via Getty Images

TOPSHOT – (COMBO) This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (L) and US President Donald Trump speaking during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. (Photos by JIM WATSON and SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON,SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Tara Lauther

October 25,2020: It’s fall— the season of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and elections. On September 29, 2020, the first presidential debate kicked off at 9pm. Americans sat at home, waiting to hear the future face of our country debate. 

The first debate brought forward a lot of tension and arguing between Biden and Trump. At some points both men were saying insults under their breath or jabbing at each other with irrelevant information. It was childish. The Vice Presidential debate was much more mature and structured, and set the precedent for the next Presidential debate. The debates touched on the topics of the Supreme Court, healthcare, COVID-19, the state of the economy, racial injustice in America, and climate change. 

After the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it was inevitable that her seat would have to be filled. Amy Coney Barret was nominated to fill the position of Supreme Court Justice. Former Vice President Joe Biden believes that the American people should have a say in the Supreme Court justice. In other words, Supreme Court nominations should occur after the election so that people can vote first. There is fear that Barrett would endanger the Affordable Care Act and women’s reproductive rights. President Trump claims that it is his duty and right to fill the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “I’m not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years”.

Trump claimed that there was no way the Democratic Party would pass up such an opportunity either. In the 2016 election year, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to succeed Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court. The notable difference between that instance and this one is that Scalia’s passing happened much earlier in the year, and Obama was not running again for President.

A key issue discussed in both Presidential debates and the Vice Presidential debate was the COVID-19 crisis. Biden said that the president has no plan for COVID-19 and took no action when Trump knew how serious it was. Biden was referring to the instance in which President Trump and Vice President Pence were aware of the pandemic in January, but neglected to tell the public or take precautionary measures. Biden encouraged the use of masks. In the second debate, he said that if he were leading the country during COVID-19, he would move into rapid testing and safely opening up schools and businesses. In the Vice Presidential Debate on October 7, Senator Kamala Harris called the Trump administration’s handling of COVID-19 the “greatest failure of any presidential administration in our country”.

Both Biden and Harris said that Americans should put trust in the doctors and health professionals, not the Trump administration. President Trump also suggested that American should not trust his administration when he disagreed with his own administration. Trump said that vaccines will come out sooner than predicted by CDC scientists. Trump claims that other countries will not give them an accurate count on COVID-19 cases. Trump blames the virus on China and calls COVID-19 the “China Plague”. A turn in the debate about COVID-19 came in the Vice Presidential debate, during which President Trump was sick with the coronavirus. The moderator questioned how the government could expect Americans to follow safety guidelines, when the White House itself could not do so. Vice President Pence said he had trust in the American people to take information to protect themselves, their family, and others.

A pressing issue in all three debates was that of police brutality and racial disparities in the United States. Biden says that police need more assistance such as psychologists to assist police. He claims that Trump is cutting funds for law enforcement. In the second debate, he noted how horrible it is that black parents have to teach their kids what to anticipate with a police officer, that they have to fear for their lives. The US has never quite accomplished “all men are created equal.” 

When asked to condemn white supremacy, Trump neglected to do so and instead pointed the conversation towards ANTIFA. In the second debate, Trump claimed that he had good relationships with all people and that he was “the least racist person.” This statement contrasted greatly with him calling COVID-19 the “China Plague, and with his refusal to condemn white supremacy.