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Be Objective: The Final Presidential Debate

If you didn’t catch last night's third presidential debate, you didn’t miss anything more than both candidates making their final desperate plea to the other side of the aisle for their votes. At this time of the election, most voters are arguably decided. The election has become so polarized that safely assuming an effort to sway people in your direction will positively impact your chances of winning is ignorant, to say the least.

With former Vice President Joe Biden leading comfortably in the polls, his sole responsibility for the night was to show up, repeat the same script he’s been spewing on the campaign trail, and not fall victim to the President’s attempts to irritate as the scandalous behavior of his son Hunter Biden was being aired out on national television.

Along with reciting his own talking points, Biden even directly quoted former President Barack Obama when he declared there are “No red states, no blue states; just the United States,” in response to the President blaming the spike in COVID-19 cases on the way blue states have handled the pandemic.

While Biden is no stranger to plagiarism, most notably when he nearly quoted leader of the British Labour Party Neil Kinnock word for word during his 1988 Presidential run, the quote from Obama is so generically political that it’s no surprise that a polished politician would repeat the sentiment.

President Trump, who has not been viewed favorably by the polls, had a completely different responsibility for the night. He had to appeal to Biden voters, and hope that once-Trump voters will cast their vote in his direction this time around. His position in the polls incentivizes him to stay off topic and stay on Biden and his family.

He drove home the lack of success Biden’s 47 years of public service have achieved for the United States. He questioned the six-term Senator on his son’s involvement with Russia, Ukraine, and China. He even accused the former Vice President and his leader of building the very cages that the Trump Administration has been demonized over for the past four years.

“Who built the cages, Joe?,” the President pressed.

Biden defended his role as Vice President, reminding viewers and the President that he was not the President at the time. He avoided taking responsibility for the gridlock in Washington when he served under Obama. “We had a Republican Congress,” he argued. As Senator, Biden boasts that he worked with other Senators to produce legislation that would progress our country in the right direction. He also admitted that the legislation passed in the 1980s to combat the drug war was a mistake that was committed by every single member of the Senate at the time.

Oddly, Trump was on his best behavior. At times, it was obvious that he had something to say, even though his microphone had been muted, but, for the majority of the debate, he awaited his turn to speak and utilized a lot of his time to answer the moderator’s questions, while also back-handing Biden every chance he got.

Good behavior is expected from Biden during the debates. Biden has been through the ringer a number of times before and knows how to respond professionally and politically. He knows how to answer the questions that promote his campaign and avoid the ones that could hinder his chance. He, too, enjoyed back-handing the President when he had a chance, most notably when he called Trump "Abraham Lincoln."

Many on social media have declared moderator Kristin Welker as the winner of last night’s debate. They praise her ability to keep the candidates on topic and the discussion moving. While we did finally get the chance to hear where the candidates stand on many of the issues, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that we visited the same discussion topics that we did during the first debate and the Vice President debate.

Last night, NBC’s Welker focused on COVID-19, race relations, climate change, national security in regards to US elections, immigration, and a brief commentary on the economy. While the format of each question has changed, the motive behind each question seems to have remained the same.

I would argue that Welker was the best moderator presented during the 2020 election cycle. I would not go as far as to say she was completely objective the entire night. She appeared more comfortable cutting off Trump than she was informing Biden that his time had expired. Her line of questions posed to each candidate were tough, and she pressed both to answer the questions presented, rather than responding to a previous discussion point.

I wouldn’t be being objective if I failed to mention that Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Presidential candidate who is on the ballot in all 50 states, was once again not invited to participate in a civil discourse against Trump and Biden. The nonpartisan debate commission decided that the people would be better served if they were only permitted to hear two-thirds of the argument being presented to them on the ballot this November.

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