An Editorial About The Presidential Debate by a Black Queer Person Who Is Very Tired

Judah Clayton

I’ve got a horror movie for you: Two Rich, Seventy-Something Year Old Men Want to Decide Healthcare for All Americans (Including Impoverished Ones) (2020).

The presidential debate. We couldn’t just… not talk about it. We’re Americans. Not only that, but we’re Black Americans. To ignore politics at such a crucial time for Black Americans (people who aren’t black are finally addressing and talking about racism on a wider scale, and, GASP, actually including and listening to black people in their conversations!) is irresponsible. There is no better time than now to become educated in the pollical sphere, vote, and make choices that can better our communities that have been beaten down for so long.

Okay, the PSA is over. Moving on, this is the first debate that I as a college freshman was old enough to fully understand and immerse myself in. And it truly would have been enough to radicalize me had I already not been radicalized. The surrealism of this debate was more artful than any horror movie that I could recommend. A lot of the conversation of course

The stage: Cleveland, Ohio.

The characters: Donald J. Trump, 74 years old, Republican, Current President of the United States; Joe Biden, 77 years old, Democrat, Former Vic President of the United states; Chris Wallace, 73 years old, news anchor for Fox, and moderator of the debate.

Let’s get this horror show rolling.

Part 1: Cast + Crew

Before we get into the policies and issues discussed in the debate, we should acknowledge the fact that there is not a man on this stage that is younger than 70 years old. These politicians are overripe. Why are we in such a state that we have people from such an old generation representing the masses? Age is indicative of wisdom, sure, and I’m not trying to be ageist; but I’m not sure I want a 74-77 year old man (who has more money than I would know what to do with) speaking for me. Already, neither of these candidates are an amazing choice because we are in such different demographics.

I know one of the main complaints about the debate was the behavior of the candidates. Lots of people have criticized them for behaving like children. They talked over each other, threw petty insults, and focused more on how they looked to the public rather than being honest and transparent with their policy. I’ll speak to you all frankly. As someone who lived with a 60-something year old man for many years, people tend to regress at a certain point. These men are almost ready for the nursing home. Surely some of you can remember the time when grandpa’s mind started to go, and conversations with him changed. These men are at that time.

To be honest, I went into that debate with high hopes. I had my notebook and pen ready so I could take notes about policy and the nuances of how both candidates planned on structuring the government moving forward, especially after the incident concerning George Floyd. I know some of my friends who are from California were waiting with equally bated breath. What did the candidates expect to do about California? You know, the one that's currently on fire and with an air quality that might give people lung cancer? How did the President plan on addressing mass evacuation and homelessness? How did they plan on addressing the fact that some of my friends don’t have a home to go back to?

We were all disappointed. Maybe it was our faults for having such high, horribly unreachable standards for the next President of the United States, the next leader and figurehead of our country that will interact with leaders and figureheads of other countries and also solve the many problems plaguing us here at home. Standards such as a basic, comprehensive plan for addressing systemic racism and police brutality, mass evacuations, COVID economy. Our bad. I ended up putting away my pen after the first catfight between the two candidates. I felt like I was watching WordStar at one point; I was certain Biden was going to hit someone.

The live stream of the debate I watched was invaded by people of other countries who came with the sole purpose of laughing at us Americans for the way the two main candidates for “leader” were acting. I felt embarrassed, and I hadn’t even done anything! The idea that other world leaders were watching this and forming opinions on America sent a rush of terror through me greater than the first time I’d watched Lights Out in theatre.

Part 2: Healthcare

I feel genuine jealousy. I’m so jealous that neither of the candidates have real-world or first-hand knowledge of issues real Americans face. Take the section on the Affordable Care Act. I like to call it Obamacare, but the mere mention of a Black man in regard to a policy causes some people’s minds to go reeling, so for sensibility’s sake I will call it the ACA. The ACA and Medicaid literally saved my life, so listening to two rich men who have probably always been able to afford health insurance talk about dismantling “the worst parts” of it made me dizzy. A study performed by the Department of Health and Human Services has stated that there could be as many as 133 million Americans could have preexisting conditions that could keep them from getting adequate health insurance. I worry constantly that I will be one of those Americans. Health disparity in America disproportionately affects people of color. Of course, the ACA could be improved. Any policy could be improved to help more people. But this policy DOES save lives. The lives saved however, are impoverished lives, as Medicaid’s a policy that mostly applies to people underneath the poverty line. Of course, Trump and Biden, as wealthy men, do not have comprehensive plans about replacing or improving Obamacare. These men are not impoverished, and it would surprise me if either of them actually knew and communicated regularly with a person who was impoverished. If either of them bothered to do their research on their people, they would not need to argue about the statistics of Americans with preexisting conditions.

“Over the last four years, you have promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, but you have never in these four years come up with a plan, a comprehensive plan, to replace Obamacare.” – David Wallace [To Donald Trump]

They would not need to argue on the validity or necessity of Medicaid and the ACA. Most other first-world countries already have free healthcare. Not because these countries are socialist (not that that’s the worst thing in the world), but because they understand that people cannot control whether or not they get cancer or have Type 1 diabetes or are born blind or with cerebral palsy. People cannot directly control most aspects of their health, and still need care to function. But two able-bodied rich men could never understand this. See my first point about having a 70-something year old rich man speak on your behalf.

Side note: These men also debated Roe v. Wade, because of course they did. Full stop, period not a comma, stop. I do not want to listen to men debate women’s reproductive health and rights. I’m not even sure either of them know how pregnancy works. Could they point to a uterus on a diagram? Unsure. Neither of their opinions matter on this because they do not have uteruses. Men should not get to decide women’s rights. I’m not sure why this is a controversial opinion.

Part 3: COVID-19 + Racism

Ah, the COVID-19 section. Also known as the section where Trump claims that Biden hypothetically killed more people than Trump has actually killed inadvertently with his poor choices. Some people might think this is a very harsh assessment, but these are the men who want to lead the country. I think I can be harsh. Trump has been caught on record stating that he knew about the severity of COIVD-19, but downplayed it because, apparently, he thinks Americans are too stupid to know the truth and prepare themselves adequately. After doing this, he has made and reshared several tweets downplaying the severity of the coronavirus. “People need not worry about COVID. In fact, I’ll mock Biden, another really old goddamn man who is at risk of death from COVID, for wearing a mask and socially distancing. Wait, why are people dying? It’s not like I, the leader of the country, treated the coronavirus like it’s just a light cold!”

Your actions have consequences. And your actions have set a precedent for the coronavirus not being a big deal.

Trump not understanding that the average American does not have a private helicopter to take them to a top-of-the-line hospital with personal and attentive doctors to receive the most expensive and highly experimental steroids available.

Biden, for his benefit, at least made an effort to address Americans who had lost friends or family to the coronavirus. That is, until he was interrupted. It’s hard to lose someone in your family, especially to a death that feels so sudden. The lockdown of America only happened in March, and a lot of wounds are still very fresh. To my people that have been sick with the coronavirus or who have lost someone to it entirely: please take care of yourself. That’s a hard to thing to get over. You may get no sympathy from the President of the United States, but you’ll get some from me.

Now… I want to talk about the inherent racism of calling the coronavirus the “China Plague,” as our president so lovingly put it. People will argue all day and night that it’s not racist, since the virus originated in China. But... it is. Such terminology is used to isolate and discriminate against Asian-Americans. According to the AAPI stop hate group, 1 in 4 Asian-American youths have experienced bullying or similar actions because of the rhetoric surrounding COVID-19. Many have been called slurs. Out of this bullied populace, a quarter of them fear for their lives or their family’s lives because of the rhetoric. In nearly half the reports of bullying, adults were present and were complicit in the bullying by not speaking out against it or helping the victims. These are incidents of hate, and the language used by the President even in the debate is helping to perpetuate it. People are dehumanizing Asian-Americans, and as another group that has been dehumanized, I will not stand for it. There is a racist in office and we need to get him out.

Part 4: More Racism

While we’re on the topic of racism, of course we have to talk about … the incident. You know the one. If you’ve clicked on this article, you know the one. The one where the president directly addressed a violent white-supremacist group, the Proud Boys, and told them to stand back and stand by. Ever since the president came down with the coronavirus, this crucial quote from the president when asked to denounce white supremacy has been virtually forgotten. But I have not forgotten. I have not forgotten that the President of the United States decided to address a hate group as if they were his friends when asked to denounce white supremacy. I will not forget the fact that when asked to denounce violent white nationalism and hate of people of color, he immediately turned the blame to Anti-fa. I believe people should be antifascist. Fascism is objectively BAD. This comment... had me floored. I grieved after this comment. I became scared. More scared than I would be during a horror movie marathon. I became scared for my own safety the way people would be scared had Jason spawned in their summer camp. To give these hate groups the okay to “stand back, stand by” is inciting violence against other Americans. Because hey, I am an American. Just because I am a Black American does not make me less of an American. I have citizenship here. To be treated like an intruder in my own home is maddening.

But of course, neither of the candidates truly care about this either. They can pretend, but they’re both white. Biden is not for defunding the police despite the history of policing and the harm it has caused. Defunding the police means moving more money into schools, healthcare and social work so that people can make better choices in non-emergencies instead of calling for a guy with a gun and less training than an employee at Blockbuster (when it was a thing). He is for allocating more money in community policing, but he has not expanded on policy beyond this. The idea of putting more money into a system that has put down and oppressed me and my family and community for years is scary. I do not want the history of racism in America to be ignored. I am sick of it being ignored. I grew up in Ferguson-Florissant during the Ferguson riots. I am not new to the Black Lives Matter movement. I am not new the conversations surrounding racism. Just because this is a new conversation for a lot of white Americans does not mean it is new to us. We have known that racism is bad. This is not a new concept for us. Neither is the fact that racism is still present in society. And these men want to continue to ignore this systemic oppression that has caused such damage and hurt our community for over 200 years. I can’t have it. I cannot have that. I need someone in office that is going to look at these problems and look at me, and people like me, and decide to do something about it. And that is why I am voting. And I encourage you all to do the same.

I am not an unbiased writer. I am not sure that I can be that given the state of America. I want to relay the most important facts to our audience so that they can make the most informed decisions, but I will also put my own bias in there: I cannot vote for a man that not only glosses over systemic racism, but compares the severity of it to not being a fascist or not liking fascists.

If you are Black, please vote. If you have ever cared about a Black person, please vote. If you claim to be anti-racist, vote.


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