Pence’s performance in vice presidential debate makes Harris looks favorable


Joel C. Bautista | The Ticker

Adhokshaya Malhotra

In the first vice presidential debate held on Oct. 7, the winner was Sen. Kamala Harris, as she hammered Vice President Mike Pence on issues like COVID-19 and the economy, both of which have been handled badly by the Trump administration.

Harris was dodgy on questions regarding the Supreme Court and unclear on the issues regarding fracking, while Mike Pence mimicked Trump’s calm demeanor.

Harris and Pence are the most important vice presidential candidates in modern American history. History was made with the first Black and Indian American woman to be on a vice presidential debate stage.

Harris has received a mixed reaction as a politician with some calling her amiable, smart and confident, and others feeling that she was too aggressive, indecisive on policies and shrill. Trump referred to Harris as “this monster that was onstage with Mike Pence, who destroyed her last night, by the way,” according to a telephone interview on Fox Business News.

America is currently in complete chaos with a global pandemic that has still not been curtailed, a tanking economy and a lack of social cohesion among its citizens.

Given Trump’s diagnosis and age, Pence is first in the line of succession. However, if Biden is elected then, there are also valid concerns about his physical and mental health which makes Harris the next in the line of succession.

This is perhaps the first time in electoral politics that mental and physical incapacity of both the candidates has been a talking point for quite some time.

The vice presidential debate was held at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah and gave Americans a glimpse of the kind of second tier leadership they will be presented with if either presidential candidates become physically and mentally unfit for office.

The debates also gave Americans a rough insight to the personalities, style of leadership and communication of both the candidates.

Harris had her moments at the debate, especially when she said, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking” and, “If you don’t mind letting me finish, we can then have a conversation, okay?”

This phrase probably rang a bell with most women from all walks of life who have experienced being interrupted by a man continuously because of the power dynamics associated with gender roles.

For example, our society has been told that men are more intelligent and substantial on important issue-based topics and optics, just because a man constantly interrupting a woman is seen as some sort of power yielding strategy.

This notion in present times has been quite detested and resisted by women. The politics of this was bad for Pence, which explains why Biden is leading in his campaign with support from women.

The mansplaining by Pence was not helpful for the Trump campaign either. It only damaged the support he has with female voters.

Pence had his shot to recruit Republican voters when he asked Harris, “Are you and Joe Biden going to pack the Court if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed?”

Republicans and the conservative media have been targeting Democratic representatives and Biden on the issue of packing the Supreme Court.

This has been a concern for a while with conservatives fearing that if Biden is elected president and the Senate is taken back by the Democrats, then they might pack the courts with liberal activists who are not qualified judges.

Harris and Biden have not given a clear answer to this, which makes it easier for Republicans to hammer them and provide a frail reason to go ahead with the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.

Another moment which was concerning for all Americans was when Pence was asked by the moderator what his role would be if Trump declined to accept a peaceful transfer of power after the election.

Pence replied, “Well, Susan, first and foremost, I think we’re going to win this election.” This answer was insufficient and Pence should have said yes immediately, even though the country is so divided and polarized. This is not a partisan issue — it is the basic foundation for any modern and cosmopolitan democracy to survive. Pence not answering this question made it so obvious that Americans might not see a peaceful transition of power for the first time in their electoral history.

This will tear the democratic fabric of the country, undermine the stature of the leader of the free world and challenge America’s hegemony as a powerful, wealthy and democratic nation. Pence should have at least clarified his answer after the debate, which makes this situation even worse.

This election stands to be the most consequential election for Americans. If it is not a free and fair election, then it will be an incalculable loss to American democracy.