Despite stumbles and disruptions, VP debate shows America’s progress: Readers


On debate stage, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris showed beyond a doubt that she is ready to lead this nation.

USA TODAY

No doubt that the country is polarized and divided, sometimes bitterly, on a host of issues.

But Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate proved that all of us should take a moment to be thankful that we are doing something right, even if progress is slow.

Two presidential candidates and two vice presidential candidates. Three of them are white men of privilege and one, for the first time ever, is a woman of color. And not just any woman of color, but a genuine star.

Politics aside, watching the debate, is there any doubt that Sen. Kamala Harris belonged on that stage? Of course not. All she needed was the moment, and she excelled. She (not surprisingly) proved beyond dispute that she can compete with the men.

Wednesday night was a very good night for the United States. Now, we can imagine in a very real sense that a woman of color can be a leader of the free world as vice president or president of the United States.  

That’s cool.

Michael Kenny; Atlanta

The Trump administration’s disdain for women and minorities was on full display at the debate Wednesday night. Vice President Mike Pence bullied moderator Susan Page repeatedly talking over her consistent attempts to signal to him he had exceeded his time. He flouted the rules of the debate which he and his team approved, and he repeatedly interrupted and talked over Sen. Kamala Harris.

His paternal bias was hard to miss in his answers about how much say women should have in making reproductive decisions. He was dismissive when responding to points made by Harris. Even when he was not speaking, his head shaking, grimaces and muttering spoke volumes.

One point made by Harris that bears repeating was her assertion that Trump administration appointments to the federal bench have been overwhelmingly white and male.

Mark P. Hunter; Atlanta

Like the first presidential debate, the debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris was a sham. The moderator, Susan Page, who I hold in high regard, was either far too restrained in enforcing or without the power to enforce the debate rules. For example, Pence frequently sidestepped the questions put to him by Page and expounded instead on topics and points he wanted to address, often going well beyond his allotted time. Harris was then forced to parry the topics and points that Pence, not Page, raised for discussion. To her credit, Page had prepared some excellent questions designed to elicit information from both candidates likely to be valuable to voters on key issues. Regrettably, many of those questions were not answered.

To make the debates more valuable to the electorate, the debate commission needs to arm the moderators with a stronger and clearly articulated range of powers to control the conduct of candidates. Such powers might include the authority to shut off offender’s microphones, reduce their time for answering upcoming questions and require the candidates to answer directly the precise question put to them. Otherwise, the debates will only provide the electorate with the narratives that the candidates themselves have created on the issues.

William Plesec; Cleveland

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