Kamala Harris was the Only Reason I Watched the Vice-Presidential Debate
We didn’t learn anything new.
After the presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, we all needed a shot of normalcy or just a shot. When the fiasco CNN’s Jake Tapper called a “hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck” ended, we had no more clarity than what we started with. So, the least we all could expect from the vice-presidential debate of 2020 was two adults having a conversation, which we got.
We also got Kamala Harris, the first woman of color to debate as a major candidate on the national stage. Since I am living in a dark history unfolding, this is the light I needed to see.
Of course, we still didn’t learn anything new about the candidates’ policies.
A lackluster circus
I normally don’t watch debates or political speeches because I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything when I do. I’m only paying more attention now because, as a history buff, I want to be present as it happens around me.
It’s not like I enjoy watching ringmaster politicians. Even after watching the grown-up in The White House, Mike Pence and the force that is Kamala Harris, I felt meh, overall.
Still, I felt represented on a platform that I never realized that someone with a similar cultural background could be a part of.
Harris came out swinging from the first question about the pandemic. She called the Trump administration coronavirus virus response, “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.” She immediately backed up her statements with facts. Real ones, too.
She would not allow Pence to talk over her. She smiled and kept talking. Never losing her cool, she only said, “I’m speaking.”
While remaining calm, Kamala Harris brought the brown woman side-eye to the many times she was interrupted or mansplained. One Twitter user asked, “Can we make this a universal meme for responding to mansplaining?”
She didn’t back down when he tried to throw shade at her record as a prosecutor. She told him she wouldn’t be “lectured” by him about enforcing laws when she was the only one on the stage who ever tried a case.
She emphasized the serious threat to the Affordable Care Act. She spoke directly to people with pre-existing conditions and others who would be affected by its repeal. Looking straight into the camera, she said, “They’re coming for you.”
Harris knows how to pivot deftly. When she answered a question about health transparency, she shifted it to tax transparency and Trump’s lack thereof. When Pence pressed her about whether or not Biden would stack the Supreme Court with new appointments, she didn’t answer. Instead, she talked about Trump’s 194 judicial appointments, who are mostly white. None are black.
What did we learn?
The simple answer to that is nothing. Any policy they talked about is a talking point on their campaign website. (Find Biden’s here and Trump’s here). They both dodged questions they didn’t want to answer.
When the moderator asked if they discussed presidential succession considering both candidates’ ages, neither one answered. And neither one answered when asked about what they would want their home states to do should Roe vs. Wade be overturned.
A lot of it was Pence twisting Harris’s words and blatantly lying about the Trump administration’s “achievements.” True to Trump administration form, he disparaged the Obama administration and its handling of the swine flu of 2009. He neglected to mention it wasn’t airborne, and only about 12,000 people died.
At most, this debate and subsequent debates are confirmation for voters who have already decided. It’s really about who they like better and who supports their narrative.
That’s why I couldn’t get too excited about what I was watching.
No matter what, I can say I watched when the first black woman debated as a major candidate.