Thursday evening’s presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was one for the history books. A new rule was enacted by the Commission on Presidential Debates which allowed a member of the production crew employed by the commission to mute the candidates’ microphones outside their allotted speaking times.
This made for a unique final debate from an already memorable election.
It’s unlikely that this debate influenced anyone’s opinions, however. The past few weeks have seen a record-breaking voter turnout, during which over 45 million people have already voted, according to USA Today. This far into the election, most citizens have decided who they are voting for, if they haven’t voted yet.
Regardless, it was an entertaining couple of hours with the new features added by the commission.
The muted microphone feature was not utilized as well as most viewers hoped for, and the obnoxious faces and ridiculous claims of both candidates made for a night of viewing that seemed more like a Saturday Night Live skit than a presidential debate.
The most important topic of the night was race in America. The candidates were first asked if they understood the importance of the conversations parents of Black children must have with them in order to ensure their safety. Both candidates expressed their understanding, but Biden seemed to do a better job at expanding on his privilege as a parent of white children.
The candidates played blame game when Biden accused Trump of not helping America live up to the famous Declaration of Independence quote that “all men are created equal.”
Trump then shunned Biden for his 1994 association with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that resulted in the mass incarceration of African Americans and then cited his own accomplishments in prison reform. And once again, Trump compared himself to former President Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated the slaves, in an attempt to prove that he isn’t racist.
“Nobody has done more for the Black community than Donald Trump. And if you look, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln,” the president said, while Biden shook his head in disbelief.
The moderator, NBC News’ Kristen Welker, also brought up national security, specifically speaking about the recent discovery of foreign interference in the election by Russia and Iran. Both candidates seemed to believe that the Russian government is working against them to help the other succeed, sounding more like the ramblings of people on the edge of a psychotic break.
When speaking about North Korea, Biden compared Kim Jong Un to Adolf Hitler. This is a potentially controversial statement that may have been a bit too radical, because Hitler’s genocide of the Jewish people resonates to this day and continues to affect descendants of those in the Holocaust.
The third of the six topics brought up by Welker was the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump surprisingly stated that he takes “full responsibility” for the tragic events that have taken place since March, but then quickly returned the blame of the pandemic to China. Biden responded with a biting criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, stating that a person who is responsible for over 200,000 deaths should not be allowed to be president.
The fourth topic was American families, which addressed health care, unemployment, minimum wage and immigration. The president called Biden’s insurance plan “socialist medicine,” claiming that government-provided health care would push America further into socialist ideals.
Biden called this claim ridiculous, while reassuring Americans that his plan would allow for private health care companies to continue offering insurance options to citizens.
On the topic of immigration, the candidates played the blame game again. The moderator asked the president about the separation of children from their parents at the Texas-Mexico border, to which his immediate reply was not only that children who are brought to this country illegally are brought by bad people, but also that the cages built for those children were constructed by the Obama administration.
Biden then pointed the finger at Trump for the current uproar about ending immigrant family separation, and said that he is policing the border and making the U.S. the “laughingstock” of the world.
The debate then shifted to climate change, a controversial subject among this year’s voters. Trump continuously compared America to other countries, attempting to shift eyes away from our current environmental shortcomings. He also made claims about alleged toxic fumes that come from windmills and accused Biden of being indecisive about fracking, an especially risky means of extracting oil from the ground to use for fuel.
Biden responded by stating that he believes fracking is a temporary solution until a more sustainable energy source is found and can be provided on a large scale. He also promised an investment in electric car chargers if he is elected president.
The night ended with the candidates attempting to address those on the other side of the aisle who may not vote for them. Biden stated that if he were to be elected he would be first and foremost the president of the U.S., promising hope for all citizens. Trump also provided a statement of unity, saying that success will bring us together and we can rebuild the country.
Neither candidate prevailed, leaving voters just as confused as they were before the night began, if any voters are still deciding who they’ll support. Both candidates were vague and left many questions unanswered. There was no winner, but it is safe to conclude from the night that both candidates as well as America have lost no matter what direction the election swings.