A clear winner or a muddled mess?

A pivotal election in the history of the US - a battle to keep the US unbroken on several key issues.


Photo credit: Reuters

Vikas S

The Presidential Debates are something that is synonymous with the US elections. Though not legally mandated, it has been a common event since 1960. This debate, in particular, was moderated by Chris Wallace from Fox News.

Unsurprisingly, there were no handshakes or other pleasantries exchanged given the COVID-19 pandemic. The debate started with the first segment, out of six, being the replacement of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg with Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Biden reiterated that the American people have a say in who should be the Supreme Court nominee and that rushing the nomination weeks before the election shows that Trump is not confident about a victory. Trump responded by saying that the elections that he won “have consequences” and claimed to have a phenomenal nominee.

The second segment was healthcare.
Joe Biden made a strong statement by saying, “the Party is me, right now….I am the Democratic Party”. Defeating Bernie Sanders and not agreeing with his radical ideas, Biden established his democratic position. He also wants to build Obamacare and make it more accessible and beneficial. Trump believes that Biden wants to go “Socialist Medicine”. Trump also claimed that under his new plan, the cost of prescription drugs would be reduced by “80-90%” and that he hoped to completely uproot Obamacare.

In the third segment which was about the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden said that President Trump had “no plan” and ignored all the warning signs even though he knew the seriousness of the pandemic well ahead in February. He then blamed him for all the COVID-related deaths by refusing to instate restrictions and not heeding to scientists. He also brought up Trump’s appreciation of Chinese President Xi’s handling of the pandemic while not holding him accountable for the chaos caused. Donald Trump on the other hand claimed that “millions of people would have died” if he had listened to Joe Biden. He also claimed that he had done a great job preventing deaths without completely shutting down the economy and attacked Biden by saying that his plan would have left millions of Americans unemployed.

In the fourth segment which was about the economy and taxation, Biden brought up the recent news about Trump only paying $750 in federal income tax for the year 2016 while Trump claimed to have paid “millions” in taxes and said that the people would see his tax records “very soon”. Biden defended his plan of investing more in renewable energy. Trump was very vague in saying that he wanted “immaculate air and water” while not mentioning climate change.

The fifth segment was about racial issues.
Trump claimed that Biden had treated the black community very poorly and that he is now letting a lot of them out of jail. Biden, on the other hand, said that Trump has “virtually done nothing for black Americans” and that he is just a president who uses everything as a “dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred”.
The Charlottesville Hate Rally was also brought up in this segment when Biden attacked Trump for commenting “there were some fine people on both sides” after the event. The moderator asked Trump to condemn extremists on the right as well and Trump responded by asking him which particular group he should condemn. Chris gave him the example of a Far-right group, “The Proud Boys”, and Trump said, “Proud Boys - stand back and stand by” to which the hate group later responded over Telegram, “standing by Sir!”. Trump also said that “somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left” and Biden responded by saying that Antifa wasn’t an organisation but an ideology.

The sixth and final segment was about the integrity of the election.
Trump attacked the usage of Mail-in ballots and claimed that it would result in voter fraud. Biden defended it by saying that Mail-in votes have been used for over a decade with no consequences. Trump had also previously told the media that he would not give up his position if the elections were “fraudulent” and also said, “this is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen before”. Biden reiterated that saying, “We’re going to make sure that people who are able to vote in person are able to vote” and also said that Trump was trying to “dissuade” people from voting by “scaring people into thinking that it’s not going to be legitimate”.

The entirety of the debate saw Donald Trump repeatedly interrupting Biden. The moderator asked Trump to stop interrupting several times but to no avail. At one point, Biden told Trump to “shut up” when he interrupted him. It felt more like a shouting match than a debate to most viewers.

The debate came to an end after the sixth segment. Now we wait for the forthcoming Vice-Presidential Debate and the Second Presidential Debate.

A post-debate CNN poll said that Biden won the debate as 6 in 10 viewers said Biden did a better job in the debate and just 28 per cent said Donald Trump did better. But this post-poll statistics are not of much help as Hillary Clinton had much better results in the post-poll stats during the 2016 Presidential Debate but went on to lose the election.

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