Even though we have discussed the upcoming election and the decision-making process that precedes it, there is more to talk about.
This week, both presidential candidates participated in town hall meetings. It seems as though a town hall meeting would yield more information about the candidates, as the earlier debate was bogged down by candidates interrupting one another, sidestepping questions and throwing insults, while town halls keep candidates separated and, therefore, minimize conflict.
We have learned that’s not necessarily true.
President Trump’s town hall in Miami was nearly as contentious as the debate. While he took questions from the audience, moderator Savannah Guthrie had her work cut out for her as she tried to keep Trump on topic and fact-check his answers while ignoring his vitriol. Unfortunately, her best efforts did not yield many answers.
For example, Trump denied knowing whether he had a COVID-19 test on the day of the debate. He denied knowledge about QAnon. He failed to respond to questions regarding a retweet about a conspiracy theory about his opponent. He dodged questions about his debt and his net worth.
In the Joe Biden town hall in Philadelphia, the former vice president had a gentler and more direct back-and-forth with attendees, even if some of his answers were noncommittal. He admitted the 1994 crime law he supported wasn’t as effective as he’d hoped. He clarified his stance on fracking. He discussed his approach to the Supreme Court.
We realize candidates are careful about answering questions that might affect the outcome of their election. We also realize they claim they will do things they might find out it’s impossible for them to accomplish. These are part of the nature of running for office.
Beyond what candidates say, voters can learn from watching them in action — how transparent they are when answering questions, how well they connect to the moderator and to the audience, how knowledgeable they are about various topics.
Whether it’s a debate or a town hall, we need events that put the spotlight on candidates and as voters, we need to pay attention to what these events reveal. It’s our responsibility to make an informed decision when we vote and we must use all the tools at our disposal to do so.