We’re under a week away from Election Day, so I suffered through two hours of nonsensical yelling to help you understand what went on in the debates.
They decided to leave the debate rules as is for the first debate on Sept. 29, which didn’t work out whatsoever. We knew how Trump would react. He incessantly interrupted Clinton in all three debates in 2016. I don’t know why the Commission on Presidential Debates thought the first 2020 debate would be a good time to give him a second chance at behaving. He interrupted Biden just as much as Clinton, if not more.
In the final debate on Oct. 22, the Commission gave the moderator the power to mute the candidates, and it went smoothly. Trump made some faces, but I guess those are fair game if the cameras are still pointed at you.
I don’t think anyone would be surprised by what Biden and Trump said on either night. They stuck to their bases, so it was a bit boring. That’s why I picked out the 10 most important things that happened, so you can skip the racism and insufferable question-dodging to get right to the good stuff.
1. Biden actually knows what antifa means.
While Trump was refusing to condemn white supremacists (why would he insult his base like that?) and trying to rally up the Proud Boys, Biden said the best thing I’ve heard him say this entire election season. Trump remarked that something has to be done about “antifa and the left,” to which Biden responded, “antifa is an idea.” That’s actually a direct quote of the Director of the FBI, Chris Wray, who testified that to lawmakers in September. He emphasized that although some leftists and anarchists have looted, rioted, caused property damage, etc., they’re not part of one organized “antifa” group. Antifa is simply an abbreviation for anti-fascism, which is a broad ideology that some protesters fall under. Biden’s said some ignorant (and sometimes downright dismissive) things about protesters, but this impressed me.
2. Trump’s still running on “draining the swamp” and being a political outsider.
If my dogs could talk, they would unanimously agree (along with about every other American) that Trump is no average politician. But he’s still a politician. He continually asked Biden why he didn’t accomplish what he wants to in 2008 and 2012, saying “you had eight years with Obama. … you’re all talk and no action.” He still talks about how he’s getting ‘corrupt’ politicians out (not the ones he’s friends with, just the other ones apparently) and “draining the swamp.” I can’t help but laugh when he does this, because he’s already spent an entire four years in office. Weren’t you supposed to have drained that already? Do you really think Biden could’ve accomplished his entire campaign platform as vice president? And if you do, why aren’t you criticizing Trump for not doing that in the past four years?
3. Biden doesn’t support the Green New Deal.
Please stop saying he does. I wish it was true. Trump brought this up in the first debate and multiple times in the second one, and although he’s complimented it, he’s not directly supported it. His environmental plan is quite different.
4. Biden’s also not banning fracking.
I haven’t seen/heard a campaign ad where Trump and Pence haven’t mentioned this. It’s just straight up not true. As a Pennsylvanian, I so, so desperately wish it was! I might’ve actually wanted to vote for the guy. He’s said flat-out he won’t ban fracking. Again, you should just read his platform for yourself here.
5. Biden didn’t call criminals “super predators,” but that doesn’t really matter.
Trump’s brought up Biden’s senate record in both debates. In the second, he famously said “[Biden] never did a thing, except in 1994, when he did such harm to the black community, and he called them super predators. He said it, super predators,” in reference to Biden supporting the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Biden never used the word “super predators” — Clinton did. But, why does that even matter? More importantly, he voted in favor of the bill. The legislation created mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes (including a mandatory life sentence for repeated ‘violent’ offenders), made the death penalty a worthy punishment for 60 more federal crimes, and allowed juveniles to be tried as adults in more cases. I shouldn’t have to tell you that this only expanded our problem of mass incarceration; it’s pretty obvious. Also, of course, this new law disproportionately affected Americans of color, particularly black Americans. A study by the National Association of Social Workers found black children are charged as adults more often than white children, and they’re far more likely to be re-incarcerated for the same or similar crimes. Biden’s part of the reason this happened, whether he called ‘criminals’ an offensive name or not. For what it’s worth, democrats also nearly universally supported this bill at the time. You can read the bill and accompanying voting records here.
6. Trump thinks China, Russia, and India are filthy from pollution, but somehow America’s not.
During the second debate, Trump said “look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia. Look at India. It’s filthy, the air is filthy.” I almost teleported to the debate stage and slapped him across that crusty orange face for this one. Americans release double emissions per capita compared to these countries. We’ve been polluting for a lot longer than they have. Trump loves to talk about (and for) Pittsburgh, but he fails to mention how Allegheny county has some of the highest rates of pollution-caused cancer in the country. My bubba, many of my great aunts and uncles, and my great grandparents all had forms cancer that were likely caused by pollution. Clean up our own backyard before you go barking into theirs.
7. Trump still thinks testing is why our number of COVID-19 cases are so high.
I really can’t wrap my head around this one, or how there are grown adults out there who believe this. Our tests suck, and the number of tests we conduct is abysmal compared to other countries, but that’s not even my biggest gripe here. I have to ask, what the f**k do you think happens if we don’t test people? Do you think the COVID-19 virus isn’t really there unless we see it on a positive test result?
8. Yes, Biden’s son Hunter has an addiction problem. So do 20 million other Americans.
Trump brought up Biden’s son, Hunter, multiple times in both debates. In the first debate, Trump said Hunter was “dishonorably discharged” from the military due to cocaine addiction. He wasn’t, but he has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. In response, Biden acknowledged his son’s strength and praised him for his sobriety, saying “my son, like a lot of people at home, had a drug problem. He’s overtaking it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it, and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my son.” The American Addiction Center estimates about 19.7 million Americans aged 12 or older have an addiction problem. Some of those people are bound to be Trump supporters, and he undoubtedly ostracized and offended them with his comments about Hunter.
9. Trump claimed he’s “immune” to COVID-19. He’s not, even though he ‘recovered.’
In the second debate, Trump said he’s “immune” to COVID-19, although “whether it’s four months or a lifetime, nobody’s been able to say that.” First, I have to say, it’s ridiculous to think Trump’s battle with COVID-19 is over. He’s an obese 74-year-old, which means he’s at high-risk for complications from COVID-19 like permanent heart damage/disease, lung damage, and neurological damage. It’s pretty likely these are going to bite him in the ass before January. Also, there’s no decisive research on the length of someone’s immunity to COVID-19 yet, but it’s probably not more than three months. Just use your common sense here – if it’s the same kind of virus as the flu, and you can get the flu again and again every flu season, you’re going to be vulnerable to re-infection at some point.
10. Trump said we’re “weeks away” from a vaccine weeks ago. We’re not.
Trump said in the first debate that he “spoke to the scientists that are in charge” and “we’re weeks away from a vaccine.” He’s right, sort of. We are weeks away, maybe about 60 or 70. According to the Mayo Clinic, developing a safe, reliable vaccine’s going to take at least 12 or 18 months. Plus, not to scare you, but there’s a high chance the virus is going to mutate, and we’ll need to develop more vaccines after the first one is widely distributed.