Last Wednesday’s debate between Vice-President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris was a glaringly stark contrast to the crap-fest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden the previous week. For the most part, Pence and Harris showed those two other old curmudgeons how to remain relatively calm and focused during discussions about critical national issues.
I say ‘for the most part’ because of Pence’s tendency to interrupt Harris – the same way Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden – and to ramble beyond his slated time limit – again, like Trump. I feel that both Trump and Pence fit the unpleasantly stereotypical image of the angry White male: men who believe only those exactly like them are qualified to speak out on any concern facing the country and should be allowed to speak adnauseam about it.
Harris, meanwhile, showed restraint and decorum by politely stating, “I’m speaking,” with a bright grin. Many observers, especially women and non-Whites, viewed this as a typical response for someone like Harris. Women and non-Whites, it seems, are always expected to maintain a sense of calm in the face of indignity and disrespect. Otherwise, they’d be viewed as uppity or bitchy. Harris, in effect, had to stay polite and professional; for if she had done a Joe Biden and yelled, “Shut up!” to Pence, political pundits – particularly those on the conservative end who already hate her for the mere fact she’s a dark-skinned woman daring to campaign for a national office, much like they did with Barack Obama – would have mercilessly slayed her.
Pence never really answered any question from moderator Susan Page who proved as equally powerless as Chris Wallace during the Trump-Biden fiasco. But, for we independent observers – that is, those of us not satisfied with either Trump or Biden – Pence’s blatant disorientation during the debate signaled how dysfunctional the current White House administration is in the face of dual crises: the failing economy and the expanding COVID-19 pandemic.
To me Trump, Biden and Pence represent America’s past: still fighting the U.S. Civil War; the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s; law-and-order mantras; the Cold War; a caste society. Harris, on the other hand, represents America’s future: attacks on economic inequality and social injustices; ending war; giving ALL citizens the chance to prove their merit and their value in a 21st century world.
Time doesn’t stagnate, except in the minds of conservatives. Regardless of what one thinks of the vice-presidential debate, the 2020 presidential campaign continues. It can’t end soon enough.