The widely anticipated debate between President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden unfolded as nothing short of a bickering match between two men so different philosophically with no will for compromise.
The President handily won the shouting match and because his opponent couldn’t muster much of an argument on any of the topics discussed, Donald Trump has come out as the winner of the rather disappointing Presidential debate between the two polarizing figures. With both of them swiftly tugging at the strings of the debate to direct the discussion, neither of the two men were able to stay on topic for more than a few jabs at one another, often interrupted by snide comments on both sides.
With healthcare and the pandemic really dominating the debate, neither the President nor Joe Biden could really point to much of a positive record on the subject, which fueled the hurling of accusations and insults in both directions. Trump strategically drove a wedge between Mr. Biden and his party’s base, and given the transformational stage that the Democratic Party is in at the moment, President Trump’s insistence on isolating Biden from his party could prove damaging to the former Vice President’s platform among young and radical voters. Responding to these jabs by the President, Joe Biden exclaimed that, “The party is me. Right now, I am the Democratic Party”, seemingly dismissing what looks to be the majority of today’s Democrats who identify more closely with socialist platforms than what Joe Biden is campaigning on.
The squabble over healthcare also had President Trump fold Bernie Sanders into the conversation, referencing Biden’s earlier unified healthcare strategy he formed with his Democratic primary foe, socialist Bernie Sanders. Biden re-asserted his centrist strategy here, saying, “I beat Bernie Sanders…I beat him by a whole hell of a lot”. By strong-arming what has grown to be the majority and more influential wing of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden has put himself in a precarious position. Shrugging off the devout demands of the Democratic left, Biden would have in any other Presidential race shot himself in the foot here, so to say, but because Donald Trump is so loathed on the left, the former Vice President doesn’t have too much to worry about on this front, so long as he doesn’t discourage the socialist wing from voting at all.
Swinging back to public health and pandemic response the President pointed out Joe Biden’s faulty management of similar, albeit far less extensive health crises in the past. “You didn’t do very well in swine flu. H1-N1, you were a disaster. Your own Chief of Staff said you were a disaster.” Mr. Trump then added the fact that he’s observed the COVID-19 response effort to have been very politicized by his opponents, slowing down the process significantly. “I’ve spoken to Pfizer…Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and others. They can go faster than that by a lot”, said the President.
Looking at the economy, Joe Biden takes up a typical Democratic approach to taxation and spending in which he plans to hike taxes to about $4 trillion, spanning a decade, on individuals making over $400,000 annually as well as on corporations. Additionally, Mr. Biden went on to pledge a corporate tax hike from 21% to 28%. Backing up his economic plan with supposed ‘Wall Street Analyses’, the former Vice President said that his plan would out-employ Trump’s successes over the last four years, “because it would be about buying American”. ‘Buying American’ is not an area where Joe Biden should be challenging the President, as Mr. Trump has solidified his economic strategy as a champion of domestic manufacturing and employment more than any other President.
Now, the year 2020 has brought so much difficulty for humanity across the world – but as the United States specifically continues to act as the global standard for democracy and leadership, its cracks and imperfections rise to the surface. Over the summer, racial tensions across the nation have boiled over in response to several cases of blatant police brutality at the expense of the wellbeing and in some cases, the lives of specifically black Americans. With neither Donald Trump not Joe Biden having anything close to a clean slate on racial issues, the topic was largely disparaged during this Presidential debate. The President, citing Mr. Biden’s crime bill in 1994, called him out for using the term “super predators” in reference to black Americans, and then enforced the fact that “they’ve never forgotten it”.
Further delving into the topic of law enforcement, Trump underscored the fact that he has the support of “250 military leaders and generals”. Then going on to berate Biden and his Democratic colleagues in local and state governance, Trump pointed out that, “The top 10 cities and just about the top 40 cities are run by Democrats, and in many cases radical left. And they’ve got you wrapped around their finger, Joe, to a point where you don’t want to say anything about law and order. And I’ll tell you what, the people of this country want and demand law and order and you’re afraid to even say it.” Law and order has been a founding pillar of the rights and freedoms that the United States of America is built on, and provoking Biden into silence on this issue sheds light on his partisan allegiances and unwillingness to protect Americans with the best services available.
An overarching analysis of the two men’s conduct during the hour and a half debate show that neither candidate has the right balance of political strength and popular appeal to ideally lead the country in these dire times. Although Mr. Biden’s direct appeals to the camera and to ‘the people at home’ his failure to really challenge President Trump’s assertiveness on any of his platforms leaves him playing catch up in the race. The President on the other hand, although he has mastered the art of debate and performance, still seems to fall short of bringing together a divided American nation.
Lacking any real substance in policy or direction, this debate in many instances deteriorated into simple insults and personal attacks. Throughout the debate, Joe Biden told Trump to “shut up” and called him a “clown”. Trump on the other hand repeatedly brought up Biden’s family and specifically his son, Hunter’s struggles with drug abuse, his dishonourable discharge from the military, and his shady dealings in Russia, Ukraine, and China. Neither Trump nor Biden emanate any kind of ‘Presidential charm’ that has been a defining characteristic of American leaders until 2016. Both Presidential candidates fail to tame the volatile political and social atmospheres that cloud the nation’s people, and this debate is being touted internationally as a shame to the institution of democracy at large.