OP-ED: Pence & Harris Debate; Is Returning To Politics As Usual A Good Thing?

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Senator Kamala Harris (D) debating against Vice President Mike Pence (R) in Salt Lake City, UT.
Senator Kamala Harris (D) debating against Vice President Mike Pence (R) in Salt Lake City, UT.

By Jason Luntz
Managing Editor

Last nights vice presidential debate gave us a glimpse into what politics used to look like in America. Two disciplined and professional politicians, dodging questions they did not want to answer while delivering takedown lines that were practiced for hours before hand.

Both candidates did what they were supposed to do. Harris stayed firm on messaging, showing a strong case that she is prepared for the second highest office in the land. Pence delivered the same messages that Trump normally does, but in the calm manner only a politician can do when sharing ideas and opinions that are horrible for the American people.

They did what politicians have always done, treating the debate like a prize fighter in a boxing match; they bob, weave and pivot. Sometimes they answer questions and sometimes they don’t. Which is frustrating to voters.

While there were many skirmishes between the two candidates, it clearly was a different event from what we all witnessed a week early with Trump and Biden.

The question is this: is a return to civility a good thing for politics?

The one advantage you do have when witnessing Donald Trump debate is you see the truth of his administration; an administration that disregards the rules, while claiming to the party of law and order. When you are watching a seasoned politician like Pence you can almost forget that he and the President do not give a damn about following the rules that are agreed upon. To be clear Pence was not orderly and he did not follow the law (the rules).

His calm demeanor should not allow us to ignore the many times he interrupted Senator Harris during the debate. “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking, I’m speaking,” Harris said time and time again.

Both Pence and Trump agree to the rules and then violate them. The difference is Pence knows how to deliver the message in away that doesn’t turn off many moderate voters. We should not focus on how the message is giving to us, but on what the message is saying.

Being polite drew out Kamala’s only weakness. It was clear that there was some concern of coming off as an angry black woman and that took away from her effectiveness. The issue is no matter what she did during the debate the other side was going to label her as emotional, angry, and nasty. Today on Fox New it Donald Trump called her a monster. “This monster that was on stage with Mike Pence, who destroyed her last night by the way, but this monster, she says no no there won’t be fracking, everything she said is a lie,” he said in an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo.

Because she was going to be labeled an angry black woman, this did not have to be the time to hold back punches.

Returning to business as usual with politics cannot win an election for Democrats during the era of Trump. It only gives an advantage to him and the Republican party. Allowing them to push policy like ending Obamacare while not offering an alternative.  It also gives them a chance to focus on jobs when asked about climate change and never admitting that the science is real.

Democrats have to stop being afraid of turning off certain voters and speak the truth to the American people. We all remember when Michelle Obama said “when they go low, we go high.” That was a different time. In 2020 we need a new approach to stop the right wing attack on our American values of freedom and opportunities for all us of in this country, not just the elite.

In a debate where the most talked about thing is a black fly that was perched on Pence’s head for a number of minutes during the debate, it is clear that voters are now used to the new normal of Trump’s approach to politics. While the Democrats do not need to copy the way the president communicates, it is time that they pushed the civility to the side and fight for this election with the same level of passion and energy as the Republican party.

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