Since the first Presidential Debate was a national embarrassment, all eyes were set on the Vice Presidential Debate between current Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris. A debate that many political analysts have said is the most important Vice Presidential Debate in American history.
To begin, both parties somewhat respected each other, which seems like a foreign gesture when looking back on the previous debates with Donald Trump both in the first Presidential Debate against Joe Biden, as well as the Presidential Debates in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. While both parties were respectful of one another, it’s important to draw focus on what was actually discussed throughout the debate.
The first topic dealt with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This topic came as no surprise because six days prior to the debate, President Trump, the First Lady, and many White House officials tested positive for COVID-19. When asked about what a Biden administration would do in January and February to combat the pandemic if they are elected, Sen. Harris said that their plan includes a national strategy for contact tracing, coronavirus testing, and administering a vaccine that is free for everyone who desires to get one.
After Sen. Harris answered her question from the moderator Susan, Vice President Pence was asked why the US death toll was higher than every other wealthy country when dealing with the coronavirus. He immediately blamed China for bringing the coronavirus into the country, and was quick to praise President Trump for suspending all travel to China. In the same breath he attacked Joe Biden for calling the suspension of travel to China xenophobic.
CNN Reporter Daniel Dale fact checked this claim made by the Vice President and found it to be false. All suspension from China was not banned because citizens, family members, and permanent residents were exempt from this restriction. Dale went on to note that a lot of the coronavirus cases actually came from travel to Europe and not China, and that it was too late for restrictions to take place in foreign countries because the virus had already reached and began to spread throughout the US.
A moment that stood out the most during this section of the debate was the moment Vice President Pence said “stop playing politics with people’s lives” during the designated time for open discussion between both candidates. This statement from Pence proved very hypocritical when thinking about how President Trump tweeted out a day before the debate saying that he is suspending a potential coronavirus relief bill until after the election.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump said.
Another hot topic that was discussed during the debate was the issue of abortion. With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Trump administration has been rushing to confirm Ginsburg’s potential successor Amy Coney Barret. The potential appointment of Barret has drawn much controversy over the past week because many fear that with her having the title of Supreme Court justice, the case of Roe v. Wade will more than likely be overturned. When Vice President Pence was asked how he would want Indiana to respond if the landmark case is overturned, he once again neglected the question and pushed the urgence for the confirmation of Amy Coney Barret.
Sen. Harris was asked the same question but focused on her state of California and she stated that she will always fight for a woman’s right to choose.
“I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body. It should be her decision and not that of Donald Trump and the Vice President Michael Pence,” she said.
The last topic of the debate dealt with the ongoing issue of racism in America. With the ruling of Breonna Taylor’s case, Susan Page asked both candidates if they believed that justice was served in Taylor’s case. Sen. Harris believed that justice wasn’t served and spoke on the proposed reforms of policing and criminal justice in America she and Joe Biden hope to enact if they are elected.
“We will require a national registry for police officers who break the law. On the issue of criminal justice reform we will get rid of private prisons and cash bail, and we will decriminalize marijuana,” Harris said. She also said that under a Biden administration those who have been convicted of marijuana charges will have their records expunged.
Vice President Pence said that the family of Breonna Taylor has his sympathies. He then goes on to express how he trusts America’s justice system and that there is no excuse for the rioting and looting that proceeded after the incident that occurred where George Floyd was murdered.
The part that had me raise an eyebrow was Pence’s denial of systemic racism in America and claiming that police officers don’t have an implicit bias. To deny systemic racism in America just goes to show how much of an ingrained issue White Supremacy is in this country.
While all seven topics highlighted in this debate were and still are very important, the never-ending trend of candidates pointing fingers, dodging the questions at hand, and viewers constantly having to remind themselves what topic is being discussed made this debate seem somewhat normal.
Harris saying “Vice President I’m speaking” and the black fly that landed on Mike Pence’s white hair made more headlines and memes than the actual issues being discussed in the hour and a half long debate.
Don’t let the memes and gifs from this debate deter you from going out to vote. Make sure you have a plan. Either early or on Election Day November 3. Go to indianavoters.in.gov for more information on how to access information regarding voting in your area.