On 29 September 2020 9pm ET (30 September 3am in South Africa), we saw the first general election Presidential debate of 2020.
The general consensus across the board, is that the public the world over is rather unimpressed by either candidate’s etiquette, and especially critical of debate moderator, news anchor Chris Wallace’s conduct.
Putting aside behaviour and unnecessary personal attacks, of most concern are the false statements made and presented as fact, without repercussions or anyone being held to account. This goes beyond it being a political dance, when it should be colloquy in good faith and good sportsmanship. It means it has become acceptable to trade in fabrications, if the end goal is deemed suitable. Nothing is politically more dangerous than this.
Statements by Key Topic
President Trump answered to the point about his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. He stated correctly that as they (the Republican party) won the previous election, they have the right and obligation to nominate the next Justice. He spoke of her education and how well-respected she is, and her accolades.
Joe Biden stated correctly that the American people have a right to have a say in who the Supreme Court Justice nominee is, and that that say occurs when they vote for their senators and for the President of the United States. He added that the people will not get that chance now because an election is already underway. He said we should wait and see what the outcome of the election is and that the only way the American people get to express their view is by who they elect as president and who they elect as vice president. He appears however, to ignore that President Trump is president by the fact that he was voted as such by the American people. The statement that nominating a Supreme Court Judge is depriving the public their constitutional rights, is not only incorrect but defamatory.
The Affordable Care Act
Joe Biden stated that 100 million people have pre-existing conditions that would not be covered should the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, be discarded in its entirety. He said that if the Republicans win their case at the Supreme Court regarding the act, 20 million people would lose their healthcare now. This is not true.
The 100 million figure may have been taken from the estimation of how many people have pre-existing conditions but are not on Medicare or Medicaid. This does not have anything to do with Obamacare. It is unclear on what he based the number.
The issue has never been about how many Americans have a pre-existing health condition, but how many adults buying insurance have a condition making them difficult to insure at affordable rates. The ACA set up a subsidized plan for anyone with pre-existing conditions denied insurance in the individual market. By the Obama Administration’s own report, 2.7% of approximately 130 million people estimated to have pre-existing conditions would gain access to insurance though the ACA. For most, almost all in fact, it means far higher out-of-pocket costs.
President Trump has stated the intention to get rid of Obamacare since before he was elected in 2016. He was asked by Wallace, notably in an undeniably pointed way, “Mr President, the Supreme Court will hear a case a week after the election, in which the Trump administration along with 18 State Attorneys General, are seeking to overturn Obamacare, to end Obamacare… you have spent the last 4 years… over the last 4 years you promised to repeal and replace Obamacare but you have never in these 4 years come up with a plan… a comprehensive plan… to replace Obamacare… And just this last Thursday you signed a largely symbolic Executive Order to protect people with pre-existing conditions, 5 days before this debate. So my question, sir, is: what is the Trump healthcare plan?”
Argument ensued in the middle of the question as President Trump jumped in to say “yes I have” after the “you have never come up with a plan” accusation. This is not the way to ask a question. The question should merely have been ‘what is the Trump healthcare plan?’. For the moderator of such an important debate, to state a lie such as this, that this administration has not come up with any plans regarding healthcare, and get away with stating this lie, is concerning to say the least. It means the system is not catching bias and neither representing fair and open debate, nor a just process.
President Trump answered that there is nothing symbolic [about said Executive Order]. He stated that he is cutting drug prices and going with ‘favoured nations’, saying “which no president has had the courage to do because you’re going against big pharma. Drugs prices will be coming down 80 or 90 percent.” he continued “I’ll give you an example, Insulin was destroying families, the cost, I’m getting it so cheap it’s like water. We’re going to allow our governors now to go to other countries to buy drugs because they pay a tiny fraction of what we do…” right then, while crucial information was being given, Wallace interrupted, noticeably dismissing the important answers to the question. So much so that President Trump said questioningly “but this is big stuff”. He was correct.
Joe Biden accused President Trump of having 200,000 die from the Coronavirus “on his watch”. This is a noteworthy statement given the Democratic Party’s accusation during the beginnings of the virus’ spread, that President Trump is racist as he banned travel from China and Europe.
Biden stated Coronavirus statistics and said to Trump that “it is what it is because you are who you are. The president has no plan.” He stated that the government should fund all the PPE and help needed to keep businesses open. It happened a few times during the debate that he blamed Trump for people’s deaths. This level of defamation appears to go unnoticed.
President Trump responded stating all they did regarding the virus, from ventilators to drugs to PPE, and said that had they listened to Biden, the country would have been left wide open. He stated “I closed it and you said ‘he’s xenophobic'”.
Biden denied ever saying this, however:
Joe Biden said, during the healthcare debate, of President Trump: “he is not for any help for people needing healthcare. Because he in fact already has cost 10 million people their healthcare that they had from their employers because of his recession”. During the Coronavirus debate he stated that “millionaires and billionaires like him [referring to President Trump]” benefitted from the pandemic, as they only focused on the market and that Trump didn’t pay all his due taxes. He said “The fact is that… he is going to be the first president of the United States, to leave office having fewer jobs in his administration than when he became president.” He added that “the people who have lost their jobs, are those people who have been on the front lines, those people who have been saving our lives, those people who have been out there dying…”. This is nonsensical and untrue, not to mention convoluted. There was no real answer to solutions to economic problems.
To blame the president for the economy suffering during a pandemic, and to state that he does not care if people die and that those who have lost their jobs are those who have been saving lives and dying, is bizarre to say the least and should not go unanswered. The statements are divisive, demonizing and untrue.
President Trump stated “I had to close the greatest economy in the history of our country, and by the way now it’s being built again…” In response to the tax-evasion accusation, he said “you’re wrong”. This was not enquired further until later during the tax debate, which was more about accusing the president of evading due taxes, than it was about the economy. In response to the statements that he does not care for people’s lives, he attempted to answer but Wallace shut it down by saying ‘you’ve had your 2 minutes’ and so Trump had to force a response. He managed to state once again, that even one life lost is one life too many, and that the people want their states, business and lives carefully opened up while Biden said people want safety.
Racial Tension and Riots
Biden accused the President of using race to divide the nation. He said that Trump’s own FBI director spoke of the threat of white supremacists and said that ANTIFA is an idea and not an organization, not a militia. He focused on numbers of African Americans who will die because of Coronavirus. He said “this man has done virtually nothing… You have to look at what he did… And what he did has been disastrous for the African American community”.
When asked about law and order and the riots in suburbs and their relation to racism, Biden moved the topic back to Coronavirus stating that what is really a threat to the suburbs is that people in the suburbs are dying from it because of Trump’s failures to deal with it, and added that climate is a threat to suburbs as they are being burned out and flooded. None of this is true and appeared to be an avoidance of the question at hand.
With regards to “Re-imagining Policing”, Biden stated he does not support the notion of defunding the police, but of having police have support to do their jobs, mostly talking about in the way of mental health support.
When asked why he has not called on the leaders of Portland to stop the riots, he responded saying that he has always said rioters should be prosecuted and added that “They can in fact take care of it is he just stays out of the way.” referring to Trump. Another strange and fabricated accusation. He stated that Trump wants to rile things up instead of calming them down.
Trump said to Biden “you did a crime bill in 1994 where you called them, the African American community, super-predators” and stated the changes he is making is letting people who should be out of jails, be free. On law enforcement he mentioned the military leaders and states supporting him and said to Biden that he cannot mention the words ‘law enforcement’ as he would lose his radical Left supporters. He said “we believe in law and order, but you don’t.”
When attempting to answer Biden’s accusations, he was shut down and forcefully inserted the statement that if the national guard is sent in, it will be sorted immediately.
Biden said that he does not support the Green New Deal as it was written, as he was called out on the contradictions in his answers about cost vs costs laid out in the Green New Deal. However on his own website he states: “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.”
Trump stated he supports doing whatever we can to have clean water, air, environment and in particular forest management with regards to the constant fires in California. He stated that there must be a balance with this work and the economy and spoke of the flaws and economic mismanagement in what California is doing with regards to cars.
Conclusion and Global Impact
Regardless of etiquette, it is clear that President Trump’s answers and information presented were not truly taken into account. Additionally, it is clear he was not given adequate opportunity to answer accusations.
Of greatest concern is Joe Biden’s use of false statements. Almost every falsehood he stated was not addressed or cleared up.
The Democratic party’s tendency to use fabrications about the opposition as weapons to rile up a national state of fear and victimhood is seeping into the rest of the world. Countries, such as South Africa, where Communism is embraced by the disenfranchised as a solution to disillusionment, are dangerously affected by this irresponsible behaviour.
If the Democratic party focused on adding value rather than distributing a national identity of victimhood, and if the Republican party focused on the delivery of the truth and calling out even the most ridiculous of fabrications in a connecting way accessible to all sides rather than seemingly deciding to not give energy to the absurd, it would serve all people of the globe equally.