Civility (mostly) ruled the vice-presidential debate

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who is her party's vice-presidential nominee, debated Republican Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Clarksburg, Maryland, U.S.A. – When I tuned in to watch the vice-presidential debate last night, all I was hoping for was a few coherent sentences spoken by each candidate.

But for the first time since this race has begun, I was happily surprised. Save for a few instances where moderator Susan Page of USA Today had to keep Vice President Mike Pence in check, both candidates largely respected each other’s uninterrupted speaking time.

Page’s job as moderator was a stark contrast to journalist Chris Wallace of Fox News, who struggled to keep President Donald Trump in line last week.

She emphasized uninterrupted speech before and during the debate and went on to chastise Pence in the middle of the debate for exceeding his given time limit and speaking over her. A strong woman speaking up about her rights, Page as moderator was a highlight of the event.

Senator Kamala Harris was a shining light in what I perceived as nothing but dark, murky waters of hatred after Trump’s performance during the presidential debate against challenger Joe Biden.

From the first few minutes of the debate, Harris jumped into the rights of the people, expressing hers and Biden’s plans to provide free vaccinations for the coronavirus once it is approved, and making a four-year college education available for free to households making less than $125,000 a year.

Harris was also an amazing representation of women of color. She spoke strongly about allowing women the freedom to choose and defended her background as a prosecutor after being attacked by Pence.

She directly told viewers that nobody will subvert our democracy, imploring everyone to vote. Harris remained calm and composed, using numbers and proven facts to debunk hateful and outright wrong statements made by the vice president.

Pence, however, was nothing but infuriating. Often, he didn’t answer the question posed by Page, rambling on about Trump’s superiority over Biden and refusing to provide any clear reasoning.

When he did answer the question, Pence made me even more upset. He blamed China for the spread of the coronavirus, rather than taking into account the Trump administration’s terrible handling of the pandemic.

Even worse, when asked about whether a Black woman, Breonna Taylor, received justice after police killed her in a botched raid on her Louisville apartment in March, Pence said that he “believed in our justice system,” going on to say that he and President Trump “stand with those in uniform.”

I struggled to continue watching. If Trump and Pence, who both stood against protests for racial equality and justice on the national stage, are on the ballot, is it even a question who to vote for?

While mildly upsetting, the vice-presidential debate was much more tolerable and civil than the presidential debate last week. Harris’ extremely powerful words highlighted the importance of the quickly approaching election.

This debate wasn’t perfect, but it remains an important landmark in the road to the 2020 presidential election.

Sreehitha Gandluri is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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