Arrie Solomon '21
Typically when I think about the mail, my mind is flooded by unnecessary Amazon Prime orders and spam from various colleges. However, the mail system does a lot more than deliver the ghosts of past retail therapy sessions and an increasing fear of the future beyond high school. The mail system delivers prescriptions, bills, voting ballots, and other vital parcels that Americans rely on. The importance of our mail system and how it affects our lives begs the question: Who should be in charge of making sure our mail is delivered safely and on time?
There are two serious options: privatizing the mail or allowing the government to regulate it, and currently, our country operates under both systems. Corporations like Amazon, FedEx, and UPS all make billions of dollars a year; they are more desirable shipping options for larger businesses. There is also the USPS, which has been underfunded by the government for years. Their sales have decreased to the extent that access to their services is becoming sparse. The USPS is usually responsible for the aforementioned American essentials; it is also more favorable to small businesses because the USPS charges less to ship parcels than a private corporation. If the USPS was adequately funded and everyone had access to it, a government-regulated mail system for all would not be such a bad idea. The prices of services like shipping would stay low. Small and large businesses alike could mail parcels for less and reallocate excess savings. Also, the people that rely on the mail system for essentials would always be guaranteed quality and timely mail services.
However, one could argue that since the government is corrupt, the mail system would be safer in the hands of private corporations. Private mail corporations dominate the parcel delivery industry. They all provide quality mail services and are favored by a lot of Americans, but if the mail system were fully privatized then corporations might abuse the significance of mail to increase revenue. Throughout history, we have witnessed the corruption of privatization in healthcare, private prisons, and more. For example, healthcare providers take advantage of the fact that millions of people rely on certain medicines, doctor’s appointments, etc. to stay alive. These corporations charge an unnecessarily large amount of money for these life-saving necessities to make more money, knowing the consumer will try to pay whatever price to survive. That manipulative behavior is easily transferable to the mail system. People currently rely on USPS for essentials, like their healthcare. If the mail was to be privatized, pharmaceutical companies would start paying more to ship their parcels, raising the price of healthcare essentials even more for the consumer, further exacerbating the pre-existing corruption of privatized essentials.
Nonetheless, the government is no less corrupt than a private corporation. To understand who should be in charge of our mail systems, we first have to investigate who currently holds the responsibility. Currently, a man named Louis DeJoy, the acting “CEO” of the USPS, is the Postmaster-General. DeJoy has personally donated to Trump’s wallet on many occasions, and as we know, any Trump donor has a special seat at the table of covert government corruption. The true nature of this crisis is revealed at this table. While you’d think that the government doing their constitutional duty would not be worrisome, we forget that we live in America. Neither the government nor private corporations do their jobs with the consumer’s best interest dictating their actions; both entities are corrupt in their own way. In my limited words on the subject, I can only offer my thoughts on the lack of integrity in our current capitalist society. I cannot provide a solution to this conundrum of who should be in charge of the mail. Suppose healthcare was accessible to everyone and voter suppression didn’t come in the form of stringent and confusing voting laws, especially during a pandemic. In that case, I would say the government should be in control of the mail. But alas, we live in corrupt times, regardless of who we demand to be in charge.
Lilyana Acharya '21
The Black Lives Matter movement has a newfound foothold in the turmoil of the present. Many people feel they must speak out about the issues that would otherwise, at best, be ignored. The movement has garnered many champions, some of whom find much of their claim to fame in the backlash that carries them to the forefront of public interest. One of those spokespeople is Muriel Elizabeth Bowser, the D.C. mayor. Though Bowser has risen to a key public figure recently, she is not a stranger to the position she holds.
Muriel Bowser started her District government career in 2004 when she was unanimously elected as a representative to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC). She was re-elected again in 2006 while serving as the Ward 4 campaign coordinator during Adrian Fenty’s successful run for D.C. mayor. Fenty’s succession to the office of mayor left a vacancy in his previous seat as the Ward 4 representative in the D.C. Council, and Bowser was elected to the Council in 2007.
Contrary to her previous elusion from the spotlight as an ANC commissioner, Bowser’s run for the D. C. Council even brought her to the editorial page of the Washington Post. Bowser’s near-immediate rise from campaign coordinator to Councilmember induced controversy surrounding her motives. Some believed Bowser would serve as Fenty’s mouthpiece rather than advocate for her constituents. Bowser’s friendly attitude toward rich campaign donors caused suspicion that Fenty was one among many which Bowser would prioritize in her work as D.C. Councilmember. This issue followed her through her re-election in 2008.
In 2012, Bowser ran for re-election again. However, the situation this time was further complicated by the Ethics Reform Bill passed by the D.C. Council, which condemned the pervasive malpractice of elected officials, creating policies which primarily benefited their donors. Bowser consistently denounced the bill’s proposal to ban corporate donations.
Bowser escalated her ambitions in 2014 when she ran for D.C. mayor. This campaign marked the beginning of her staunch, outspoken defense of policy promoting equal opportunity in the District of Columbia. She used her campaign to speak out against student Metro fares, the corruption of the District’s government, and the selective increases in the minimum wage. Having such a broad focus, Bowser’s campaign was criticized for the lack of details. However, Bowser won with over half the vote.
Bowser now uses her position as D.C. mayor to support the Black Lives Matter movement, dedicating a street section in front of the White House to the cause. However, the D.C. chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization says this is not so much a sufficient display of support as a distraction from what should really happen. It seems that these policy changes which Black Lives Matter activists have campaigned for all summer may not come to fruition, for Bowser recently proposed a budget that supports traditional policing, and an increased Metro Police Department budget, at the expense of initiatives to reduce violence in the community.
Bowser may not have moved beyond being a sponsor of the ideals she supports yet, but as many other issues have in her previous years in numerous offices, egalitarian causes like the Black Lives Matter movement will, at least, continue to find a voice in her.
Katrina Merva '22
As we all know, President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
have pushed for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be nominated to the Supreme Court to replace
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is a strong, broadly respected conservative voice who has
taught at Notre Dame and also clerked on the Supreme Court. In 2016, Mitch McConnell
justified blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee by stating that in the event that a member of the Supreme Court dies during an election season, there should be no replacement until a new president is installed. However, almost immediately after RBG’s passing, he was instantly pushing for a replacement.
This apparent hypocrisy was not accidental. He did this because it is very important to his
and the president’s monetary interests to keep a Republican majority in the Supreme Court.
Barrett is expected to rule very conservatively across the board, as most of her opinions are
known to be based in religion and in interpreting the Constitution by what it says, word for word. This means her views on abortion, gun control, and other issues will line up primarily with those Trump or McConnell would hold.
McConnell wants someone in the Supreme Court like this so that his (and the rest of the
GOP’s) biggest sponsors, such as the NRA and the Right to Life movement, will donate more to
their campaigns. With a majority Republican Court, many rulings that would be supported by
their financial backers (e.g. the overturning of Roe. V Wade) would be made and would lead to
McConnell’s campaign receiving even more money and therefore even more power.
In addition, the rulings she is expected to make could be catastrophic for some groups in
American society. The overturning of Roe v. Wade would mean at least 1/3 of American women
would lose their access to safe and healthy abortions. Before the ruling, 1/6 of abortions in
America were self-performed and had a high risk of injury to the woman and were in some cases fatal. In states where abortion is legal, it is considered one of the safest procedures and is
completely successful over 99% of the time. A woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body should be an unalienable and indisputable right. Even with the overturn of Roe Wade, abortions would still be performed, but the illegality of them would make them a bigger health risk. Trump and McConnell have been trying to overturn the ruling for a while and appointed Barrett because her views indicated that she would do just that.
Her promise to abide by the Constitution word for word and her opinions on stare decisis also bring other potential rulings into question. The rulings for which RGB fought, such as the
right for same-sex couples to marry, affirmative action at colleges and universities, and anti-
gender discrimination laws, could be at risk. Barrett’s commitment to originalism and sticking
with solely traditional and Christian views puts these rulings of essential human rights at risk.
For these reasons, I believe that McConnell should stick to what he said in 2016 and not support the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.
Amy Coney Barrett Will Take the Supreme Court Down a Dangerous Path. The Senate Should Vote to Confirm Her Anyway.
Zach Leiter '21
The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to our nation’s highest court by a president unresponsive to the nation’s will is, as Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) put it, “profoundly concerning.”
Her record on civil liberties is deeply worrying; while she has refused to state her position on Roe v. Wade—the court’s landmark decision on access to abortions—in 2016, she said she believes that access to abortions should be further limited. Her mentor, the late Antonin Scalia, believed that Roe was wrongly decided.
In her nomination hearings, Barrett said “I am not hostile to the Affordable Care Act,” but her willingness to uphold the vital health care coverage legislation is questionable. In 2017, she criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for upholding the constitutionality of the Act’s so-called individual mandate.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case that declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the 14th amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, Justice Scalia dissented. His mentee has declined to state her views on the decision.
All of these stances worry me--as a liberal, and as an American who believes in the importance of equal protection under the law. Equally worrying is Barrett’s failure to answer a simple no, when asked whether the president has the power to postpone an election. To put it simply, Amy Coney Barrett would be a conservative justice in a liberal country at a time when our nations’ political institutions are already wholly unrepresentative of the people’s will. The president was elected without a plurality of votes. The Republican Senate majority represents 15 million fewer Americans than the Democratic minority.
But, what did we expect? There is nothing inherently wrong with a Republican president nominating a conservative justice, as long as that justice has the appropriate legal qualifications—which Coney Barrett does. Barack Obama’s nominees were more liberal, and Bush’s more conservative. That is the way our judicial system has been built to function, and as much as I may dislike that design and this individual justice right now, it is the function of the government that we have. And, it is the function of the government we have, not the function of the government we want, that matters. I strongly believe in the importance of our many of our nation’s institutions, among them the judicial system, and that belief triumphs over my partisan allegiances.
Whether Senate Republicans maintain any semblance of morality is beside the question, as is their hypocrisy. When, in 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the court, Democrats supported Obama’s right to do so. I supported his right to do so. The difference now is which party is in power, and as Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) walk back their words, Democrats need not follow the same path. This president, though elected by an unfair system, is still the president elected by our system. The American system is failing, now, but that does not mean we should abandon it. We must rework it, yes, but we must also be tireless in our drive to maintain Americans’ faith in their institutions of government. Faith in our institutions is critical to maintaining the ability of those institutions to function effectively.
At a time when the president is actively working to undermine the legitimacy of our elections and many Americans doubt the importance of government, we must remain vigilant. I know that for many, myself included, it is nigh-impossible to sit back and watch the Senate confirm Judge Barrett. But that is, unfortunately, the Senate’s role. To engage in the Republican con-game, where with every election our morals change, would be fundamentally immoral. More importantly, it would be catastrophic to the maintenance of an already frail government.
If the past four years have taught us anything, it’s that America is weaker than it once seemed. American institutions are more brittle than we believed. To achieve the brighter future that the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgh toiled for, we cannot put partisanship over protecting our Democracy. We cannot even, unfortunately, put civil liberties over Democracy. Because right now, half the nation has already forsaken our Democracy, and, if the remainder stoops to that low point, Americans’ trust in government will crater, and the American experiment may very well collapse.
Lyla Bhalla-Ladd '21
In just 18 days, the American people will vote and potentially elect their 46th President. This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, the election may not be decided until Thanksgiving or later because of an influx of mail-in ballots. Furthermore, Donald Trump’s recent refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power may elongate the election process. Only in the case of an absolute blowout would this election be confirmed by November 3rd.
This election reminds me all too much of 2016, especially in reference to Bernie Sanders supporters. Many Democrats blame the “Bernie or Bust!” write-in voters for the current bust of a president. Today, we are in a similar situation. With the current Electoral College system, any vote not for Biden is for Trump. So, even though I might write-in Elizabeth Warren in a perfect world (which we are far from), practically, Biden is my candidate. Every citizen who has come out of the past four years with their lives and rights unscathed has a responsibility to represent Americans who lost their rights, and even their lives, due to Trump’s gross neglect and biases.
Let’s face it: Donald Trump is a disgrace to this country, in theory and in practice. He is a product of white privilege and daddy’s money; he cannot run a business, much less a country. Trump, if reelected, will continue to protect himself and those within his same demographics. As a Liberal, of course I’m more likely to support the Democratic nominee. But, there should never be a candidate, like Trump, whose reelection could lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Trump was given a chance to support our country through this pandemic, and he failed us. He betrayed and lied to us in our time of need, and he mocked us in our demand to take COVID seriously. Trump works for nobody but himself.
I don’t want to spend much time talking about how wildly incompetent Trump is, given that a popular critique of Biden supporters is that we don’t actually support Biden, we just don’t like Trump.
Let’s talk about “Settle for Biden.” This movement is largely made up of young liberals who understand that while Biden may not be the ideal candidate, he is the only one who can push Trump out of office. When Biden’s sexual assault claims came out, I stalled in my support of the Democratic nominee, and I stand by that pause. I, like many women upon hearing this news, felt I was forced to now choose between two rapists for president. I still today cannot fully support a man with sexual assault allegations. Whether a man is convicted or not, I believe women. In light of these allegations, I resonated with “Settle for Biden.” However, the narrative that Democrats are “settling” for their candidate will not attract undecided moderate voters, and thus I believe this language is dangerous.
Biden’s ticket is not just about one man running for President. The reason to elect Biden is his cabinet. Biden will usher in a new wave of the most progressive cabinet America has ever had. Biden’s personal faults should not deter Democrats, or anyone, from voting for him.
If the pressing dangers of Trump’s reelection are not enough for you to vote against him, I leave you with one final thought: environmental policy. Biden has a plan for an 100% clean energy economy and wants to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. If you vote for absolutely nothing else, vote for Biden’s commitment to protecting the planet.
In such an unprecedented race, there is no room for stalling or undecidedness. We are on the brink of fascism if Trump stays in office. Vote for a return to democracy. Vote for Biden.
Robbie MacPherson '21
On September 29th, The Commission on Presidential Debates held the first debate of the 2020 election cycle. It was a lot to digest for those on either side of the aisle. Most people agree that the debate was chaotic, regardless of whether they support Trump or Biden. We saw Chris Wallace try (and fail) to keep a sense of decorum and civility in the debate. CNN described the debate accurately, calling it a “dumpster fire” and a “train wreck,” and many were inclined to agree with CNN’s interpretation, even those who see CNN as “fake news.” But upon further investigation, there was actually some decent substance between the bouts of shouting.
Trump is always an interesting character, but he played up his “Trumpiness” even more when he took the stage to debate Joe Biden. Other than interrupting and causing most of the chaos present, he illuminated his positions on some issues. On the COVID response, Trump claimed responsibility for the COVID lockdown by saying he “shut down the greatest economy ever” which is contrary to the arguments made by many conservatives that claim he left everything to the states when trying to defend Trump’s COVID response. Trump also tried, and failed, to effectively condemn white supremacists and right wing militias. Chris Wallace asked him to condemn white supremacist groups and tell them to stand back, and being the operative word. Trump told them to step back, skipping over the whole condemnation part, and just moved onto deflecting by blaming Antifa for any and all violence.
Biden also showed his teeth at the debate and proved to the American public that, despite rhetorical slip ups earlier in the campaign, he still has the necessary kick in him to bear the weight of the presidency with poise. After months of running “sleepy Joe” ads, Trump himself got to see Biden debate with coherence and even hit back by telling Trump to “shut up.” Biden used the debate to show the American people, the few that were actually watching the debate, that he has what it takes to debate Trump. I’m sure I was not the only person who was concerned about Biden’s ability to hold up under Trump’s belligerence, but the debate reassured me of his ability.
On social issues, Biden also showed that he was holding firm to his own beliefs regarding topics such as police reform. Biden had already made clear that he did not support defunding the police, no matter how frequently Trump accuses Biden of doing so. Biden emphasized his supportive stance on police when he said, “The vast majority of police officers are good, decent honorable men and women … but there are some bad apples.” He did not fall into the camp of the far left that just despises law enforcement, which was reassuring to more moderate voters. When it came to healthcare, he made clear his antipathy for universal healthcare. He advocated for expanded Medicaid and Obamacare, which again reassured many moderate voters, myself included, that he was not too left leaning. He even stood his ground when Trump attacked him for wanting to take the country in a socialist direction by saying that he doesn’t support socialist policies and emphasizing that he beat Bernie Sanders. Biden even said, “I am the Democratic Party!” which is an odd way of saying that what Biden says goes, and since Biden does not support socialism, neither does the party.
Probably the most characteristic part of the debate was when we saw both candidates show a more raw and unfiltered side of themselves. Biden ridiculed Trump for his insults directed at military service members, specifically drawing on the emotions he felt due to both of his sons having served. Trump made false claims regarding Biden’s son, Hunter, who Trump claimed was dishonorably discharged. Biden focused on the comments Trump made before refusing to visit the military cemetery in France where he calls those who served and died “suckers and losers.” Biden addressed Trump with a passion and vigor he does not normally show where he referred to his son, who served in Iraq, and said, “He was not a loser, and the people left behind there were heroes!” which reinforced Biden’s support for the armed forces. It was refreshing for us Biden supporters to see Joe Biden really let loose with previously unseen emotion at Trump.
Although the debate likely did not affect the outcome of the election much, the September 29th debate was definitely a more lively and interesting event than most normal presidential debates have been in the past. Many people struggle to determine which side really won the debate. It definitely wasn’t Chris Wallace and neither candidate really gained much, though Biden proved he could still formulate coherent thoughts. So who won the debate? I tend to lean towards Biden but realistically the only people who really benefited from this debate are the enemies of American Democracy.
William Howe '21
Personal failings aside (there are few and far between who would attempt to defend his narcissism, overuse of Twitter, and boorishness) Donald J. Trump has been one of the most effective presidents in U.S. history. Despite the menacing caricature the national press has sketched of the man, it is undeniable that Trump has performed admirably as our president, making the lives of Americans better than they were just four years prior—and according to a recent Gallup poll, 56% of Americans feel the same way, even amidst a global pandemic. Trump’s tax cuts directly led to unprecedented growth, antiquating Obama’s notion of the “new normal” of 2% yearly GDP growth (AEI). Trump has supported our nation’s law enforcement—a position that, as it happens, 80% of Black Americans agree with, despite what self-important “activists” might assert (Gallup Poll), positioning himself as a progenitor of stability in the face of widespread violence. He has led the charge against the self-flagellating, guilt-ridden view of America as an evil nation with unequivocally evil origins, a view that is all the rage in leftist circles. Take the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which argues that slavery and white supremacy are the central truths around which all of U.S. history revolves. Though it has been slammed by historians for misrepresenting American history (The Atlantic), the Times has time and again refused to make significant alterations and has forged ahead with its plan to adapt the 1619 Project for use in secondary schools. Trump has rightly condemned this project as the inaccuracy it is. Abroad, Trump has promoted peace more effectively than any of his predecessors - the Abraham Accords he facilitated between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain are the beginning of a path to peace in the conflict-torn Middle East, eschewing the notion that negotiations with the Palestinians were the only way to reach a peace deal. Many of Trump’s critics cite international relations as one of his shortcomings, but despite what other world leaders may think of him, he has been effective. He won a trade war against China, finally ending the residual attitude of appeasement from the Obama era (Bloomberg). As a president, Donald Trump has succeeded in many areas, but mainly in economy, law and order, the American ethos, and foreign policy.
Before we can discuss what Trump has done well in detail, we must rebut the most common critiques weighed against him: that he is a white supremacist/racist and that his handling of COVID-19 has been abysmal. Few people like to discuss his actual policies (because, as it turns out, they have worked rather well) and resort to calling him a “white supremacist,” but Trump has in fact condemned white supremacy and its proponents many times, and forcefully so: in his own words, “[White supremacy] must be defeated … [and] hate has no place in America” (Reuters). Trump has, in fact, condemned white supremacy more times than probably any other U.S. president; he has rebuked the ideology on too many occasions to list here, and I leave it to the nonpartisan Politifact to chronicle them. Trump has even designated the KKK a terrorist organization.
Some will still argue that he is a “secret white supremacist”—blowing a dogwhistle that, evidently, only Democrats can hear—but such accusations amount to little more than conspiracy theories. Though some of his statements may have been insensitive and distasteful, I agree with the Washington Post’s Gary Abernathy in affirming that Donald Trump is not and has never been racist. With regards to COVID-19, I will leave it to Governor Cuomo: “[Trump] has delivered for New York.” We live in a republic, and Trump did all he could to reduce travel to the United States on a federal level. Furthermore, he provided local leaders with all they needed— he fulfilled his duty as president impeccably.
Many argue that Trump’s shortcomings become evident when U.S. COVID statistics are compared with other developed nations, but even here, the criticisms fall short. Detractors often cite case numbers as the mark of failure for the Trump administration. But cases are irrelevant, given vastly different testing regimens and protocols in each country; case fatality rates and deaths per capita are the true indicators of a successful response, given that they adjust for both population and different reporting mechanisms. The fact is that the US has a lower case fatality rate than almost any Western European nation and has experienced about 65.6 deaths per 100,000 population, solidly in the range of the figures for most of Europe’s largest economies, including the UK, France, and Italy (Hopkins).
What is more, while America seems well on the road to recovery, with cases and deaths down from the summer peak nationally and in former hotspots alike, the virus is ascendant in Europe, presaging a gruesome winter. No, Trump’s COVID response was not a “failure,” but a perfectly acceptable, if not commendable, approach when compared to the responses from similar-situated nations (e.g. large, Western democracies).
Economically, very few people would dispute that Trump’s policies have excelled. He cut taxes and regulations on American workers, which most economists agree led to growth, lower unemployment, and higher 50th-percentile household income. Trump’s policies yielded the same results across the board (and if he is in fact a racist, he is one of the least effective racists in history—Black Americans did better economically under his leadership than any other president in recent years). Obama’s economy, to which Biden contributed, was simply inferior - its growth stagnated and manufacturers fled. Trump employed better economic policies than Biden.
With regards to law and order, I think we can safely say that everyone wants to reduce crime. Even rioters cry for help from law enforcement when they hear the discharge of a firearm, a sad irony that plagues their anarchist LARP fantasies. Trump (unlike Biden) condemned criminal behavior from the start of unrest in Minneapolis. Black Americans largely stand with Trump here, as 81% would like to increase or maintain law enforcement presence in their communities (which is why I call white “activists” self-important: they believe they know better than Black communities what Black communities need when they shout “defund the police”). No one wants to be robbed, looted, or shot, and Trump has promised and continues to provide support for law enforcement—Biden has given vague approval of law enforcement, but not nearly to the extent Trump has.
The 1619 Project is poison to America. Its premise is that America was founded on the idea of slavery in 1619, when the first slaves arrived in the Americas. This notion is ridiculous, as many Founding Fathers expressly condemned slavery—America was built on the promise of individual freedom for all, and today we are closer than ever to finally fulfilling that promise. Far from creating a nation that perpetuated white supremacy, the Founders in 1776 set America on a course to eradicate slavery and, later, Jim Crow. America’s founding is a story of freedom, not subjugation. We are not a nation whose identity is based on race, religion, or creed, but rather on the idea that we all deserve the freedom to accomplish all we can, with no state powers holding us back. America has allowed evil to fester in its borders, but today we have, for the most part, expelled that evil. Trump believes that every person, regardless of their race or heritage, can be American if they buy into our fundamental values. The claim that America is inherently hateful towards certain groups only harms people who now believe they have no place in our great nation and feel alienated from our nation’s central promise. Let us not vilify the values that make America such a celebrated destination among people of all races and ethnicities around the world.
Trump’s greatest success has certainly been on the world stage. For all of the glares of disapproval he has received from leaders of European nations with cultural superiority complexes, he has eliminated some of the gravest threats on our planet while simultaneously bringing us closer to world peace. North Korea backed down in the face of Trump’s belligerence, and Al-Baghdadi and Soleimani are now nothing but names. Israel has made peace with some of its longtime enemies. ISIS is gone, Al-Qaeda is weak, our border is safer, and we are closer to reconciliation in Eastern Europe than ever before. NATO members are finally paying their fair share in military spending, and we have found a new, robust ally in India. Trump’s trade war with China was an undeniable victory for the US - while we suffered little more than shaken consumer confidence, our trade deficit shrunk substantially and the Yen plummeted in value. Trump even managed to slow China’s GDP growth by a substantial margin.
Donald Trump has been an excellent president; Biden has been useless in Congress for 44 years. Joe Biden has a history of harmful and destructive bills. There is no reason to vote for Biden other than that he is a puppet for the far left of American politics. We cannot have a president who wants Americans to wait for his election to hear about his position on issues as important as court packing. Whether Trump wins or loses, he is the superior choice for the presidency.
Ellie Kearns '21
Although my political beliefs align most with Biden and Harris, the question of who won the vice presidential debate is not a question of which candidates I support. So, I will do my best to separate my views on policy from the debate itself.
Overall, the debate was rather civil (compared to the complete chaos and blatant disrespect of the presidential debate). Moderator Susan Paige’s widely ignored questions covered COVID-19, jobs and the economy, healthcare, climate change, policing, and voting. In efforts to do no harm or cause any controversy, both candidates tried to appeal to their bases but didn’t say much in the way of policy plans. Instead, they deflected each question to push their agendas: for Pence, it was to portray Harris as a radical liberal whereas, for Harris, it was to portray the Trump administration’s term as the “greatest failure… in the history of our country.”
Early on, Pence called out Harris for her adherence to debate rules, saying, “I just want the record to reflect, she never answered the question.” However, both candidates avoided the questions at all costs. To open the debate, the vice presidential candidates were asked how they would handle a presidential disability and if they have already had that conversation with their running mates. In response, Pence said little about the incumbent President’s health condition (as he was notably recovering from COVID-19) and instead criticized the Obama administration for its response to the H1N1 swine flu. Harris, on the other hand, recounted when Biden asked her to run alongside him, highlighting her qualifications as a trailblazer for black women and women of color in politics. Neither candidate successfully explained what they would do if their presidential candidate became unable to serve.
Later on, the candidates were asked how their states (California and Indiana) should rule if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Despite having been unapologetically pro-life in the past, Pence started his response by saying “I’ll use a little bit of my time to respond to that very important issue before.” When returning to Harris’ prior claim, Pence addressed the Trump administration’s assassination of the late Iranian major general, Qasem Soleimani. Pence barely touched the topic of abortion and women’s rights by just briefely mentioning Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Harris used her time to discuss the future of affordable healthcare under the Trump administration and the SCOTUS if Barrett is confirmed. Neither candidate suggested policy initiatives for their states.
The debate concluded with arguably the most important question of the night (asked by 8th grader Brecklynn Brown): “When I watch the news, all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans... All I see is citizen fighting against citizen... All I see is two candidates from opposing parties trying to tear each other down. If our leaders can’t get along, how are our citizens supposed to get along?”
In response, Pence argued that “free and open debate” allows the United States to be “the most free and prosperous country in the history of the world.” He later claimed that the media doesn’t fully represent the American people and cited the late Justices Scalia and Ginsburg as figures who were able to come together despite having opposing views. Pence concluded by saying that “When the debate is over, we come together as Americans.” However, throughout the debate, he accused Harris of “plagiarizing” Republican bills and criticized her for being the most liberal member of Congress in 2019. In addition, he critiqued Harris for partnering with democratic socialist, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when writing the Green New Deal (which, along with fracking, was one of Pence’s main criticisms of Biden and Harris). Just minutes before his concluding response, Pence addressed Senator Harris by saying, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, you’re not entitled to your own facts.” Unable to find any common ground with his opponent, how would Pence bring America together?
With her final words of the night, Harris praised Biden’s ability to “work across the aisle” and collaborate with the right. She stated that “Joe Biden has a history of lifting people up and fighting for their dignity.” However, she spent the majority of her time throughout the debate criticizing the incumbent president and his followers, by slamming the Trump administration's “ineptitude” and “incompetence.” However, when Pence tried to hold Harris accountable for her voting record on criminal justice reform, Harris responded by saying she will not be “lectured” on the Biden/Harris record. If Harris is unable to address her past mistakes, how would she avoid the issues and “incompetence” she sees in the Trump administration?
Pence begged Harris to “stop playing politics with people’s lives,” but they were both guilty of this. Each candidate focused on recited, strategic, pre-planned lines to answer a question that was never asked. In fact, the only thing on the debate stage that grabbed the attention of undecided voters was the fly on Pence’s head.
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The content of this article, as with every article posted on The Exchanged, does not represent the views of the staff of The Exchanged nor the National Cathedral School, St. Albans School, Protestant Episcopal Foundation, or any employee thereof. Opinions written are those of the writer and the writer alone.