The Final Presidential Debate


The first presidential debate of 2020 was complete chaos, with both of the candidates and the moderator fighting to speak and overall having very little productive discussion. The second and final debate implemented the method of muting each candidate’s microphone when it was not their allotted time to speak. The threat of the mute button seemed to work, and the second debate was much more civil and easy to follow. This means that Americans were given the chance to really understand what the candidates planned to do about difficult topics like the COVID-19 pandemic, national security, and climate change.

Each of the candidates held a simple overall platform. President Trump held a hopeful premise, saying that the good he has done in his first term proves that he will be best to help America recover from the effects of the pandemic. His campaign website has a list of “promises kept” in order to show voters that he takes action. Former Vice President Joe Biden has been more pessimistic, the common thread in his talking points being that Trump has handled every situation wrongly, that he could do significantly better in the position. Biden’s campaign website lists problems caused by the Trump administration that his administration would fix if they were in office.

President Donald Trump (right) and former Vice President Joe Biden (left).

On the topic of the pandemic, Trump was optimistic about the future. He said that based on the treatment he received when he contracted the coronavirus, he expected to have a vaccine within weeks, and that he planned on using the military to distribute the vaccine quickly and effectively. 

Trump expressed his concern for shutdowns causing problems across the country, saying, “We can’t keep this country closed… People are losing their jobs. They’re committing suicide. There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level that nobody’s ever seen before. There’s abuse, tremendous abuse. We have to open our country. I’ve said it often, the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself, and that’s what’s happening.” 

Biden leaned in the opposite direction, concerned about what the Trump administration has done and unhappy with the way Trump hopes (prematurely, according to Biden) to reopen so quickly.

When asked about implementing further shutdowns, he replied, “Look, you need standards. The standard is, if you have a reproduction rate in a community that’s above a certain level, everybody says, ‘Slow up. More social distancing. Do not open bars and do not open gymnasiums. Do not open until you get this under control, under more control.’ But when you do open, give the people the capacity to be able to open and have the capacity to do it safely.”

Biden’s plan to fight the coronavirus is to dedicate extra money to businesses and schools to ensure they have such materials as plexiglass dividers in restaurants and improved ventilation systems in schools.

When it came to national security, viewers were caught in a flurry of accusations from both sides. Each candidate prioritized their concern about the other’s corruption, Trump accusing Biden of corruption surrounding his son’s dealings with Russia, and Biden accusing Trump of corruption concerning his Chinese bank account. All things considered, they both appeared to agree on which countries were posing a potential threat of some sort which would require presidential focus, those being North Korea, China, and Russia.

On the topic of climate change, the main point of debate was priorities. Trump announced that he prioritized the jobs of Americans, and that he expected the gradual growth in science and technology that came with economic growth to solve the problems with the environment.

Trump stated, “We have done an incredible job environmentally, we have the cleanest air, the cleanest water, and the best carbon emission standards that we’ve seen in many, many years. And we haven’t destroyed our industries.”

He plans to work on removing some of the environmental regulations that have hurt jobs in the energy industry, which would help to begin to fix the industry we already have, and would cost less money than a plan with more immediate effects.

Biden prioritized these immediate effects, calling global warming “an existential threat to humanity,” and saying that “we have a moral obligation to deal with it,” as many scientists theorize that we will pass the point of no return in 8-10 years.

He plans to implement a climate plan that would focus on lowering emissions and would create more jobs in a reformed energy industry, although it would also cost taxpayers a significant amount of money.

The most important thing we as the American people can do is sit through these debates, take time to understand the candidates’ stances on relevant issues and to discuss them with those around us. For younger folks such as myself, it is important to begin to develop your own opinions and political stances, so that when it is time for us to go vote, we are not going in blind. For those who can vote, it is imperative that you do. It is an extraordinary thing to live in a place where we can have a voice in our government, and we should not take this power for granted.