The not so great debate

By: Stephen Lynch, Columnist

Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.  

The first debate of the 2020 presidential race concluded with incumbent President Trump once again showing his lack of grace, respect, and using his pulpit as a tool for political derision. A number of topics were up for debate, all intended to uncover each candidate’s plans for the next four years.

One key point on everyone’s mind is COVID-19, what was not done and what can be done going forward. Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, began the discussion by bringing up Trump’s failure in taking the disease seriously, allowing 200,000 thousand Americans to tragically die from the disease and the President’s repugnant response of “it is what it is.” Trump fired back, not with data, but wild conjecture, claiming that if Biden, or any radical left representative would have been in the Oval Office, there would have been millions of more deaths; then he redirected blame towards China, contending it was they who unleashed this plague upon the world. Let’s unpack this briefly.

The notion that if a Democrat were president there would have been death count five times higher is, not only an inauthentic argument but an unprovable, red herring fallacy given there is no data or points of reference to come to that conclusion. In fact, if we take a point Biden makes later in the debate, the fact offered by Trump’s director of the CDC claiming the wearing of masks could reduce COVID-19 transmission and save 100,000 lives, a mandate that Biden would have implemented given his trust in the professionals in the scientific community. The debate then transitioned to the timing of a COVID-19 vaccine. Why this has become a partisan issue, I am unsure. Nevertheless, Biden, I think, succinctly diagnosed the issue Trump is avoiding: even if the vaccine is out and approved in “weeks” there is still the logistical issue of getting the vaccine to over 300 million Americans. Something which will not happen “within a few weeks”. 

Another hot topic was the recent release by The New York Times of Trump’s tax returns in 2016-2017 showing he only paid $750 in federal taxes. Trump responded to the question of his taxes by once again redirecting the conversation and stating he had paid millions in taxes and that the accusations are another example of the Fake News media attacking him and painting him unfairly. 

To me the evidence is clear: Trump found a way to game the tax system and pay less in federal taxes than any president before him. Those in conservative media have contended this gaming the system points to President Trump’s genius, as if paying taxes, something we all must do, is wholly un-American and it was only logical for the President of the United States to avoid his civic duty. Candidate Biden used this moment to call for restructuring of the tax code implemented by the Trump administration and raise the corporate tax rate to 28% in order for the money to be redistributed to families in need. 

Lastly, moderator Chris Wallace asked the President, in the eyes of the American public and the world, to denounce white supremacists and their violent actions, and call for a stop of continued maleficence. President Trump’s response: “sure” followed by linguistic meandering ultimately blaming the radical left, a continuous punching bag for Trump and the right-wing media, and telling the Proud Boys, an alt-right, civilian pseudo-police force, to “stand by.” I see this a call to arms for the Trump supporters, to continue the bloodshed orchestrated by those who see the murders perpetrated by Kyle Rittenhouse as just acts of violence against the left. Striking home the point of the racist tendencies of this administration was the label of racist which President Trump attributed to the ideas of critical race theory. This was the president’s excuse for eliminating sensitivity training in law enforcement: because it is racist

The absurdity of the statement confounds logic. A theory which strips away the hidden facades of equality and exposes the injustices acted out upon people of color, both currently and historically, can, in no way be considered racist. In fact, I firmly believe it is the antithesis of racism by its very nature. It is racist to tear away the small beginning steps seeking to protect people of color from law enforcement brutality. For even these trainings themselves do not go far enough as we have sadly seen this year.

The debate, unfortunately, devolved into chaotic and ad hominem attacks with little argument on anything substantial such as ideology or particular proposals seeking to bring this country out of the despair of sickness and economic plight. President Trump continuously interrupted candidate Biden, argued with the moderator and attacked his opponent personally demonstrating actions not fit for office. Of course, it is the same old Trump. It should not surprise anyone the debate went the way it did. The saving grace of the debate is that it showed at least one candidate takes the issues plaguing America seriously and works to the utmost of his abilities to right the wrongs of this wayward ship: candidate Biden brought facts while President Trump brought rhetoric.


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