A recap of recent debates and resources for students looking to vote.
Coauthored by: Talia Collett, Editor in Chief
What was supposed to originally be the time of the second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden was instead a night for personal time for each candidate. Due to concerns regarding COVID-19, the debate was altered into two town hall-style engagements where each candidate was present on different networks and asked questions by a host as well as voters.
Starting with Trump’s town hall, hosted by NBC, the president was pressed on questions regarding his recent diagnosis of COVID-19 and the peaceful transfer of power by host Savannah Guthrie. At the same time, Joe Biden was on ABC speaking with host George Stephanopoulos on similar subjects like the response to the pandemic and bringing stability to the nation.
Critics have noted the contradictory statements implying that the president had tested positive prior to his debate with Biden. Regarding the diagnosis, Guthrie asked for clarification on the timeline of diagnosis.
“I probably did, and I took a test the day before and the day before,” said the president regarding his testing prior to the first debate. He would add, “Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t.”
Trump has made his position on the pandemic well known in the months since quarantine began. He actively promotes reopening the economy rather than implementing strict policies regarding masks and stay home measures. The former vice president differs heavily here. Biden spoke on the pandemic as well, noting the importance of those in power to set an example.
“When a president doesn’t wear a mask or makes fun of folks like me when I was wearing a mask for a long time, then you know people say, ‘Well, it mustn’t be that important’,” Biden said.
Biden briefly touched on the economy but echoed a similar sentiment to the quote above. His platform has historically been about returning normalcy to the White House and bringing a steady nature to the position.
Trump also touched on his previous statements regarding the peaceful transfer of power, this time stating he is willing to commit if the election is deemed “honest.”
Then, the two returned to the stage for their final debate on the evening of Oct. 22. The two candidates remained consistent on their stances regarding prominent and important issues such as COVID-19, climate change, race relations and immigration reform.
In response to COVID-19, we encountered more of the same reactions from the two candidates as we have in the past — where Trump calls for a re-opening of the economy and shows confidence in an impending vaccine, Biden pushes for the maintenance of precautionary measures.
As for issues regarding immigration reforms, it was more of the same as well. Trump declared his administration changed the policy that Obama and Biden established and claims that now we have the “strongest borders we’ve ever had,” and that those in confinement are, “so well taken care of, they’re in facilities that were so clean.” However, he refused to discuss attempts to reunite separated children with their parents.
Then, when asked about the failure to pass immigration reform when he was last in the White House, Biden claimed this was because he was merely vice president and it took too long.
“Within the first 100 days that I’m in office I’m going to send the United States Congress a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people and all Dreamers and DACA kids will be immediately certified again to be able to stay in this country,” Biden said in his rebuttal.
But Biden consistently and promptly refused to answer Trump when asked who built the cages at the border.
The two debated issues surrounding Medicaid as well. Moving forward, Trump stated that he would “like to terminate Obamacare, come up with a brand new beautiful health care.” He claims this health care would be better while also helping those with pre-existing conditions. Biden, on the other hand, announced his wishes to provide the option of “Bidencare,” an option that allows individuals unable to obtain Medicaid in their states to be automatically enrolled.
Moreover, the topic of finances surfaced again. With arguments surrounding personal finances — the reluctance of Trump’s tax return release and an allegation towards Biden surrounding alleged income from foreign sources. The two also debated the issue of a national minimum wage in which Trump supports a state-by-state decision on the matter whereas Biden wishes to push a nationwide $15 minimum.
Along with these debates, the topic of getting out to vote has permeated through the country. For UWT students, ASUWT President Vincent Da and Director of Legislative Affairs Ronan Houston provided details on the resources available for students looking to register to vote.
“Currently, we just finished launching a website this week, where all info is easy for students to search,” Da said. “There is a helpful Q&A section about voting and the events related to helping people vote,”
Along with registering to vote, Da was asked if there are any programs for students who want to learn more about the political process and become more educated voters.
“In partnership with CEI on their real talk series, they are going to discuss and examine the history of voting and the strong importance of it and we are invited to present on how to register to vote for new students,” Da said. “Ronan Houston, our director of Legislative Affairs had drop-in zoom hours related to voting but he is also releasing a video content guide for students navigating election information, how to vote, resources.”
Finally, we asked about where students can go to drop off their ballots, and any events being held alongside the election.
“Right on Pac Ave near the bus station on campus, but also on November 3rd Ronan and I will be hosting the student engagement hub where students and the public can come into the CSI to print off their ballots, have any questions about voting or drop it off,” said Da.
On the importance of voting, Houston had this to say:
“While voting is not the only way to participate in our democracy, doing so will allow your voice [to] be heard by politicians who would otherwise ignore it. With the plethora of challenges facing us today, voting at least guarantees you’ll have a seat at the table.”
UWT’s voting resources website is currently live. Visit https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/huskiesvote for more information.