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Senator Harris v. VP Pence v. The Fly

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

by Marcia Hunt

(Image via USA Today)

“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”

Senator Kamala Harris, the Democrat’s candidate for Vice President, focused her debate efforts on highlighting the Trump administration’s failures to control the COVID-19 pandemic, which is responsible for over 210,000 American deaths.

The coronavirus pandemic was the first debate topic, proving how much the American people are considering Trump’s response to the pandemic in this year’s election. Harris claimed that under a Biden administration, national efforts would be focused on contact tracing and making sure a potential vaccine is free for all.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is the head of the coronavirus taskforce, said that Biden’s plan to get COVID-19 under control looks like “plagiarism,” a reference to the 1988 Presidential campaign in which Biden made a statement which paraphrased a campaign ad from a British politician Neil Kinnock.

Another notable topic at the debate was the issue of climate change. A few weeks ago, when asked about the West Coast being up in flames, Trump repeatedly denied climate change, insisting that the weather will get colder. In the interview, Trump had said “I don’t think science knows.”

Pence seemed to take the President’s stance on the issue, admitting that “the climate is changing” while refusing to say that he thinks climate change is a serious threat.

On the offense, Pence relied on fear tactics, warning Americans that Biden and Harris would ban fracking and abolish fossil fuels, increasing control over American jobs.

Harris however insisted Biden does not plan on banning fracking, nor on abolishing fossil fuels, as evident in his denial of supporting the Green New Deal at the last Presidential debate.

On the topic of race in America, Pence refused to acknowledge that systemic racism was an issue in America.

“This presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that America is systemically racist,” said Pence. “That as Joe Biden said, law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, that is a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.”

Regarding the Supreme Court and the issue of Roe v. Wade, both candidates more or less dodged the question of what they think states should do if abortion laws are left up to the states. However, Pence claimed he believes in the “right to life” and notably, Kamala said “I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision over her own body. That is her right, not Donald Trump’s.”

Like the Presidential debate, the Vice Presidential debate did little to offer new insight into the parties’ policies and instead re-enforced their agendas. Thus, the infamous fly became a much bigger takeaway from the debate than expected.

During the debate, a fly landed on Pence’s head and remained there for nearly two minutes. Thirty minutes after the debate and it was clear that the fly had stolen the show.

But according to some Twitter users, this was a disservice to the marginalized voices harmed by the untrue statements made by Pence on the stage.

Image of Twitter user “tiger” venting about the issue with debate coverage (via Marcia Hunt)

Not even an hour after the fly’s appearance on national television, jokes were being made at the expense of black people, who had already had to listen to the Vice President deny systemic racism.


Many Twitter users were quick to point out that nonblack people comparing black people to insects and pests were racist.

Image via Twitter from user Philip Lewis condemning the racist joke (via Marcia Hunt)

By the end of the debate, however, it was clear that while this, unlike the Presidential one, was an actual debate, no real answers were given to the moderator's questions.



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