What to Know About the 2020 Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates

by Kelly R. Smith

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Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate
Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate

This article was updated on 10/07/20.

The much-awaited 2020 Presidential debates are upon us at last. President Donald Trump holds sway over the Republican corner, facing off against prior Vice President Joe Biden on the Democrat ticket.

There has been a question of whether the debates would be held at all. Some pundits bemoaned the COVID-19 pandemic. Nancy Pelosi has tried to shut them down more than once. Her rationale is that Trump is to be dismissed. The Washington Examiner quotes her as saying, “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts. I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate.”

The word on the street, however, is that Biden’s handlers are loathe to let him speak because of his continual gaffes and losing his place, mumbling, getting facts mixed up, and forgetting where he is. As for Trump, he is expected to speak off the cuff as usual but none of his inner circle is trying to take him out of the ring. Here are topics we might expect to be addressed.

Likely Debate Topics

  • The Trump and Biden Records. No surprise here; this is akin to a job interview. Trump has had great success with the economy, foreign relations, strengthening the military, and creating a robust economy. Biden had no real accomplishments as VP under former President Obama. Biden’s record on race relations is smoke and mirrors. Showing nepotism so his son could use government resources to make personal business deals might show its ugly head.


  • The Supreme Court. This will be an interesting topic. Trump is in a hurry to appoint a new judge before the election following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Democrats are currently in quite the tizzy over the prospect, and rightly so; United States Supreme Court Justice appointments are for life and the institution has “assumed” much more power over the years than the Constitution originally granted it. Truly, it has become a deity unto itself with virtually as much power as the executive branch.
  • COVID-19. This is where I expect to see a lot of fireworks. For a while now, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and the Far Left Wing have been showering fecal matter on Trump on this COVID-19 timeline topic. Their boilerplate line is mismanagement. Unfortunately, this observation doesn’t hold water and they know it (another reason to keep Biden from debating). According to cnnsnews, when Trump called for a travel ban from China right away, he was labeled a racist. When it worked they said he didn’t act soon enough. Can’t have it both ways and this will become obvious if the debate goes there. Biden is on the ropes here again; go with the party-line and be creamed by fact-checkers or avoid the subject and lose credibility.
  • The Economy. Once again, Joe will have a hard time. He and President Obama held sway over one of the most tepid recoveries ever and did their best to impede progress with “progressive” policy. Trump turned it around and produced the strongest economy in U.S. history.
  • Race and Violence in our Cities. This has risen to a critical level. BLM and Antifa are beating, burning, killing, and looting every day. Trump can list his attempts to rein it in and Biden’s record this year show that he has supported or at best turned a blind eye to the anarchy. And over the years he has misrepresented his position on race relations and his part in the civil rights movement when it was politically expedient.
  • The Integrity of the Election. This is such a broad and historied topic that it could go in any direction. Hanging chads, the electoral college, misplaced ballot boxes, bused-in voters, mail-in ballots, you name it. It is fodder for accusations but facts are facts. Only a narrow space is left for spin.

When and Where are the Debates?

The presidential debates are Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Oct. 15 in Miami, and Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn. The vice-presidential debate is Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They all start at 9 p.m. ET and will run 90 minutes without commercial interruption. The debates will be shown live on channels including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-Span. You will also be able to stream the debate live on WSJ.com and YouTube. Keep up with the books you love while you walk, run, or walk the dog with Audible.com.

I’m looking forward to the first of the 2020 Presidential debates, and the subsequent ones of course, although generally, the first sets the tone and is the most impressionable on voters. Stay tuned because I will be reporting on each one. Have you made up your mind? Please vote in the poll posted on the right sidebar of this page.

Results of the First Presidential Debate

Not much of substance came out of this debate. Trump supporters say he won; Biden supporters say he won. Everybody agrees that Wallace, the moderator, was in Biden’s corner. No surprise there. Since then Trump is recuperating from COVID-19 and Biden occasionally emerges from the bunker to make gaffes. His latest is that he claimed he is able to isolate himself because a black woman is keeping the grocery store shelves stocked for him. Say what?

The Vice-Presidential Debate

This will happen tonight. I don’t expect much from it but who knows? Expect Harris to attack strongly with rhetoric and Pence to have facts and figures. Stay tuned.

Update: And now it has transpired, for better or worse. In my opinion, Vice-President Pence took the gold, and Harris took the silver, and I understand that everyone’s opinion is different so hear me out and don’t judge. Harris was clearly uncomfortable. Pence was clearly in his element. That’s just setting the tone; Pence has been VP for a long time now and Harris is having to reverse almost all her opinions that she espoused when running against Biden for the nomination and accused him of many things, specifically of the Biden racist history. She is an intelligent woman looking for verbiage that can reconcile her history and her current pitch but it is an untenable position. She was either right before or she’s right now. She’s a liar either way. There is no middle ground outside of the beltway.

On the subject of:

  • Packing the Supreme Court should she and Biden win: Just as Joe Biden refused to answer to the American people on this issue during the first debate, so did Harris. The Constitution is clear; the number of Supreme Court Justices is up to the President and Congress. When pressed, she rambled about Abraham Lincoln.
  • Tax cuts: Biden has promised to eliminate Trump’s tax cuts on day 1, even during the lockdown when many Americans are not getting a paycheck anyway. Harris tried to back-peddle this. She said the plan is to double down on taxes and then distribute those funds to the people. Is this not redistribution of wealth? Of course it is. In the first place, why not let people keep the money they make? Biden says, “I’m not a Socialist,” but this is the basic tenet of American Democratic Socialism.

From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs

— Karl Marx
  • On the COVID-19 pandemic: Harris said, “The greatest failure of any president in the history of our country.” Whoa, back up here. When the Coronavirus first reached our shores, Trump enacted a travel ban with China. Biden immediately attacked him on it and called the action “xenophobic.” Now he says it wasn’t enough or soon enough.

Stay tuned for the next presidential debate. Meanwhile, please participate in the poll on the right-hand side of this page.



References


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

What is a Brokered Convention During a Presidential Primary?

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Preparing for a brokered convention
Preparing for a brokered convention

A brokered convention is also called an open convention and is closely related to, but not the same as, a contested convention. It can happen during a presidential election any time a political party fails to choose a nominee on the first round of delegate voting at the party’s nominating convention . Once the initial ballot or vote has happened, and no one candidate has garnered a majority of the delegates’ votes, the convention is then considered to be in brokered status; thereafter the nomination is finalized via a process of alternating political horse trading (superdelegate vote trading), and additional re-votes.

What are Superdelegates?

According to Merriam-Webster, a superdelegate, or super-delegate if you prefer, is “a person who is chosen as a delegate to a political party’s presidential nominating convention because of his or her status as a leader or official within the party and who is free to vote for any candidate regardless of the results of the popular vote in primary elections and caucuses preceding the convention. They were invented by the Democrats after the 1980 election in the expectation that in any future close nomination race, they would line up behind the establishment candidate and head off the possibility of a ruinous floor fight at the convention.”

As of this writing there has been much speculation of a brokered convention because there are still so many candidates on the Democrat side. At the moment Bernie Sanders is the top dog with a Democrat Socialist message but that could change at any moment.

The History of Brokered Conventions

From a historical point of view, before primary elections, brokered conventions happened often. This was especially of the Democrat party. But then after the advent of television ads and modern-style presidential campaigns, few brokered conventions have happened on the Republican side, due to increased voter participation, even though a couple of occurrences of contested conventions have happened. The last real brokered convention occurred in 1952, between Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Sen. Robert Taft.

A contested convention is the first step to a brokered convention. This effectively means that no one candidate has reached the national convention with a majority of delegates. When that happens, at the convention, a vote is held.

The Republican’s last contested convention battle was in 1976 when Ronald Reagan attempted and failed to remove the incumbent Gerald Ford from the ticket after Ford failed to secure enough delegates to earn the nomination. Prior to that, a contested convention nearly occurred in 1960 when Nelson Rockefeller was competing against Richard Nixon.

So that’s what a brokered convention is. As much as voters of the losing party always laments the seeming folly of the electoral college, the brokered convention is just another step removed from the will of the people and should be avoided when at all possible.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

History & Rationale: Electoral College

The Founding Father’s Way of Ensuring that the Votes of Every State Count

by Kelly R. Smith

Electoral College Results for the 2016 Election
Electoral College Results for the 2016 Election
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This article was updated on 01/06/21.

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With the 2020 presidential election all but over, whether you believe it was rigged by the Democrat Socialists or not, it’s a good idea to take a look at what the electoral college is and what it isn’t. Typically, following the election, the losers go on a frenzy crying, “It’s not fair! Abolish it!” Well, until the next time it helps them win. Then, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. This latest time, it is the liberal left that are gnashing teeth and rending garments.

A Brief History of the Electoral College

When the founding fathers were working out the details of national sovereignty and the Constitution in 1787, the question of how to conduct the presidential election was a contentious issue. In fact, it was one of the last issues to finalize.

Some of the suggestions seem downright bizarre today. The Virginia Plan opined that the National Executive should, “be chosen by the National Legislature.” James Wilson of Pennsylvania was more rational by favoring a popular election. Another suggestion put forth recommended that the election be determined by the Senate alone.

The next day Wilson suggested that districts be created where popular elections would be held to choose electors. These electors would then alone determine the next executive. Later, Elbridge from Massachusetts opined that only state governors have a vote. James Madison preferred a popular vote but was concerned that heavily-populated states would hold an unfair advantage. Therefore, he surmised that a committee with one representative from each of the eleven states should elect the President. That’s the electoral college as it went into the Constitution.

That is what many of the frenzy-criers and hobbledehoys today do not realize; we do not actually directly vote for the president directly, we vote for state electors to represent us. If we really had a popular vote, the voters in states like North Dakota would not have a say at all but California certainly would. In my humble opinion that would be a bad idea; most of the rest of the country isn’t as ready for Democratic Socialism as the west coast is.

Advantages of the Electoral College

The election is decentralized, that is, it takes place in individual states. The states have some say over how their voting process takes place. Some career politicians such as Elizabeth Warren oppose the college because she thinks the federal government should control the entire process and individual states should have no voice. So much for claiming to be for the common man and woman. That is the voice of incubating tyranny.

Why is this important? For one thing, if an individual state wants a recount, they can do it; that is their prerogative. If the Federal government had all the power, one state could trigger a national recount. What a mess that would be. Remember what a nightmare Florida was with the “hanging chads?” Imagine going through that with all the states. Why, it would be time for the next election before the current one was settled. It would in essence be a clever way of circumventing the presidential term limit.

The electoral college also helps presidential candidates by giving them a way to organize their campaigns. They know the sway that each state has so they can plan how much time to spend campaigning there and how to allocate funds. Many states would be cleanly ignored.

Disadvantages of the Electoral College

It can be a bit disheartening to think that individual votes don’t matter as much as we think they should, and indeed, that is a concept that was drilled into us in civics class. Back when we still had civics class rather than revisionist history. A faithless elector is one who has been chosen to represent their state in the electoral college but decides to cast a ballot against their state’s popular vote wishes. This has only happened a handful of times, but still.

It can actually depress voter turnout. For example, in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton had a solid 15- to 20-point lead on Donald Trump in the polling several weeks prior to the election. The final outcome resulted in a difference of 16.2 points. For Republicans and Independents, casting a ballot could seem pointless because Clinton’s win seemed like a foregone conclusion. Perception is everything; and it can be manipulated.



It may not accurately reflect the national popular will. This is the main complaint made by Democrats today. Although Hillary won the popular vote, Trump won by virtue of the designated electoral vote. In my opinion that was a blessing. This way we got at least a portion of a border wall. If Hillary had of won it would be a free-for-all at the open borders. But having the system or not is really a trade-off; without the election system we currently have, small states would consistently be disenfranchised. Does anybody really want a country where your vote does not count unless you live in California, Florida, or New York? Of course not.

I hope this article on the history and rationale for the electoral college helps you as we will continue to roll into yet another presidential election cycle every four years. If it did, pass it onto your friends. In the long run, every vote really does count, just not in the way you might think it does. Please participate in the poll on the right-hand sidebar of this page.

Further Reading

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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.