Opinion by Courtney Suber
Starting today the 2020 election is just 14 days away. While the next debate is only 2 days away on October 22nd, I’ve still got my thoughts wandering about the Vice-Presidential debate. It’s no argument that this debate held two weeks ago on October 7th was not only more organized but rooted in intelligent yet aggressive conversation as well. Both Trump and Biden could take notes from these two!
I’m personally not too keen on either candidate, and with Trump standing at the daunting age of 74 and Biden at 77, it seems as if the VP is who the American people are voting for. While my reasons for disliking the two are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum of basic morality, it gives me the advantage of making fair judgement between the two. Harris draws criticism from me when it comes to her morbid record as a prosecutor. During her career as the attorney general of California, over 1,000 people were thrown behind bars for petty marijuana offenses. Evidence was also withheld by her office to keep an innocent man on death row. I do have this criticism of Harris, but this does not exempt contempt towards Pence either. My disapproval of Mike Pence arises when his aggressive anti-abortion polices are brought about during his run as Indiana’s governor from 2013-2017. Pence argued for policies that would force women to disclose their reasoning for the procedures, violating personal privacy. His bill also prohibited abortion of fetuses who were at disposal for “diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability”. These two candidates both have questionable backgrounds, but outstanding rhetoric and experience with public speaking, making this debate fun and exciting to watch.
Although the fly that landed on Pence’s head towards the end of the debate stole the show, Pence himself managed to stand his ground and stay calm and composed. Not only did he fend off consistent attacks from his competitor, but he managed to limit his interruptions and fairly defend the president on points such as his record on so-called white supremacy and the coronavirus pandemic. To be levelheaded and reasonable is to make yourself appeal more sensible, which is a need to achieve success in a debate. However, these positives do not outweigh criticisms. Pence’s decline to answer a question on the president’s age appears as concerning to me. Donald Trump has been diagnosed with the serious illness that’s currently plaguing the world and stands at an already old age. While the coronavirus does not have a high mortality rate relative to the population size of the US, the President is put in a hard position because of his age and health status. The American people deserve to know the inner thoughts of someone who may fill the seat of the most powerful position in the world. Despite this though, I applaud Mike Pence’s debate performance and his combating of aggressive topics.
On the other hand, while I’ve had disdain towards Harris prior to her run for vice-president, and before her stint for the democratic nomination, I cannot deny her excellent performance. Kamala Harris is a born orator, who can draw people in with her words and her demeanor. The way that she carries herself simply makes her debate performance enjoyable to watch. The giggly and feminine persona taken on by female politicians (ex. Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren) often comes off as condescending and almost annoying, but Kamala Harris manages to steer this act away from those descriptors. She manages to defend Biden and his policies by defending their position on mail-in voting, and their opinion on the importance of it. She does this as well when addressing healthcare, and confirming her position of it being an inalienable right. Her smile makes you want to believe what she’s saying, and she ALMOST avoids answering questions about her past and her and Biden’s ticket. Harris appears to imitate Pence in her avoidance of questions, but this case of evading bothers me a bit more. Kamala Harris has had several opportunities to clear her name and explain her record, but she completely avoids the topic once it’s brought up. She almost gets away with a flawless performance—until she can’t explain her record. There also appeared to be contrasts between her and her running-mate, Joe Biden, that is to an extent off-putting. This is brought about upon mention of her support for the Green New Deal, whereas Joe Biden claims he does not support it. Kamala Harris is paraded as progressive by her supporters and radical by her critics, but no matter what way you put it Joe Biden is ‘the moderate candidate’. It may be argued by observers and citizens that their approaches are too different to guarantee progress and productivity.
Now… with this attempt at equal criticism, who do I think won? It’s hard to call. There’s no doubt that Kamala Harris is favored by the media, and nearly every news outlet was praising her upon the end of the debate. If I were to split them into two different categories, I believe they’re both winners to a degree. In terms of presentation, I believe Kamala managed to claim the crown. Her rhetoric is almost perfect, and even when she was dancing around questions, she managed to present herself as the superior. She can easily be declared a winner in this sense, but I believe that Mike Pence wins in the category of defense of policy and information. While his personality wasn’t as booming as Harris’, he had answers for nearly every question, and did not back away from a challenge where there was one. To be bold enough to challenge Harris on her record and remain respectful is not easy, and I believe that Pence was strong in this field. It reminded me of Tulsi Gabbard’s similar jab at Kamala during CNN’s democratic candidate debate, and it resonates that there are people willing to challenge Harris knowing her strengths.
This debate definitely was worth tuning into, and all voters should take these two orators into account when making their decision on who they believe our next president should be.