Ksenija Pavlovic Mcateer: Everything we see regarding the virtual presidential debates makes the American election a joke. If COVID19 concerns are the real reason for the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD)’s decision to cancel the in-person debate, they could either postpone it or resolve it with plexiglass in the same manner the VP debate was.  

HIGHLIGHTS

? The argument that the debate would now be virtual because Trump tested positive for COVID19 makes no sense as, by October 15, 2020, the president will be completely recovered from coronavirus and at no risk of infecting anyone present. 
? Question: If plexiglass was good for Kamala Harris why would not be for Joe Biden? 

Donald Trump changed the campaigning decorum rules but the pandemic officially killed the presidential debate, a deciding factor on voters’ preferences. After Guy Ritchie’s Fight Club on the debate stage of the 2020 Election between Trump and Biden turned the Washington way of doing things upside down, and the VP debate’s snoozefest, America will enter the second presidential debate, virtually, or not at all. 

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said of the unilateral Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD)’s decision to cancel the in-person debate. “I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate, that’s not what debating is all about” he said, firmly. 

What happened?

As announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) on October 8, 2020, the presidential candidates were to participate remotely and from separate locations in a highly anticipated Trump-Biden debate on October 15, 2020.

The announcement came in a debate-style no one wants to see, and, surprisingly, this move was made after the VP’s debate happened with plexiglass in between the candidates’ respective positions. 

Question: If plexiglass was good for Kamala Harris why would not be for Joe Biden? 

The whole point of the presidential debate was to see Biden and Trump on the same stage, next to each other.

The argument that the debate would now be virtual because Trump tested positive for COVID19 makes no sense as, by October 15, 2020, the president will be completely recovered from coronavirus and at no risk of infecting anyone present. To make things even messier, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) did not consult Dr.Conley nor did they inform the candidates of their decision beforehand. 

The whole idea that the virtual matchup is happening to protect participants from Trump’s COVID19 infection is futile. It is one more unfair step in a direction where the new rules are biased to make it easier for Joe Biden to debate Trump after the former VP performed poorly in the previous debate.  

Pavlovic Mcateer: Everything we see makes the American election a joke, the debate can be either postponed or resolved with plexiglass in the same manner the VP debate was. Making it virtual undermines the trust in the election process since it is reasonable to question if the candidates will equally respect the rules not to have teleprompters, notes, and their staff inside their remote locations. Trust, but verify cannot be the credo of this format, as it is left upon the honors system of each candidate, and both are eager to win at all costs. 

Sen. Ted Cruz said on Fox that the moderators and the Commission act as the arm of Joe Biden. “This decision to hold the debate virtually benefits Joe Biden and allows his staff to be in the room and help him”, said Cruz. 

According to Sen.Cruz, Democrats believe they are winning and they are happy that Joe Biden does not leave the basement until Election Day. 

Where do we go from here?

Trump will hold a rally on October 15, 2020. From there, we will go straight to Election Day. People already know who they will vote for no matter what. With or without the debates, Americans, divided and polarized will go to circle their choice, some in person, some with absentee ballots on November 3, 2020.

Biden for President Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield made the following statement: 

“Joe Biden was prepared to accept the CPD’s proposal for a virtual Town Hall, but the President has refused, as Donald Trump clearly does not want to face questions from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy. As a result, Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks. Given the President’s refusal to participate on October 15th, we hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd, so that the President is not able to evade accountability. The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly. Every Presidential candidate since 1992 has participated in such an event, and it would be a shame if Donald Trump was the first to refuse”

The debates would hardly move the needle given that only 14% are still persuadable. However, it was important to keep the standardized in-person debate format with all public health measures in place. Only by seeing the candidates standing next to each other, thinking on their feet, and interacting with each other,  a realistic comparison could have drawn that 14% to pick a side. 

No one wants to watch a virtual debate. Trump is right to not accept to debate on these terms, especially as CPD did not give the President a courtesy to discuss his health condition before making a unilateral decision. The pandemic has not only killed the Presidential debates, but it has also killed the D.C. Swamp’s way of doing things. November 3rd, come what may. 

Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...