What to watch for in tonight’s presidential debate

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September 29th, 2020

Ahead of tonight’s U.S. presidential debate, we are thinking of the root causes of war, chiefly: racism, sexism, and all forms of exploitation.

While we don’t know exactly what will come up in tonight’s debate, here are some things to watch out for:

  • Taxes. We shouldn’t be merely calling for Trump to pay his taxes, or laud the Biden-Harris campaign for paying a significant amount in taxes; nearly half of income tax goes to funding war and militarism. Yes, it is its own issue entirely that wealthy people evade paying their fair share of taxes, but we must always take responsibility for the way our taxes are spent. Check out our pie chart, Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes to learn more.
  • Policing. The United States has a long, racist history of policing that is now being challenged in new and powerful ways in the mainstream. The Trump administration is running a strong “Law and Order” campaign by sending federal agents to protect property and “combat crime” in cities across the country in an effort to control, quell, and clamp down on demands for racial justice from Black Lives Matter protests across the country. You should also know that the Biden-Harris campaign carries the legacy of the Democratic party on policing, as Biden played a critical role in passing the Tough-on-Crime legislation of the 1990’s, while Harris, as Attorney General of the state of California, oversaw a system that incarcerates Black Americans at five times the rate of any other group. If you’re watching tonight, keep in mind that meaningful change to policing must include a complete reimagining of our current understanding of “safety” coupled with investments in housing, healthcare, education, and the environment that create sustainable solutions for longterm community health.
  • Endless Wars. This buzzword is born out of the War on Terror, and you will most likely hear it paired with “bring our troops back home.” The problem with this is that the War on Terror doesn’t stop with troops abroad. What you need to know is that unless a candidate talks about ending aerial warfare, abolishing the Department of Homeland Security, or repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force, then they are skirting the issue of “ending endless war.”

It’s true that many of us have differing ideas on the utility of voting, whether that’s based on being located in a swing state or not, voter suppression, etc. Wherever you fall on this subject, it is also true that Donald Trump, and Trumpism more broadly, emboldens the more far-right, fascist, and chaotic elements in this country.

We hold tight to this fact: the biggest gains we have seen this year towards resisting war and militarism have not come from Republicans or Democrats, but from progressive grassroots activists - chiefly, the Black Lives Matter movement that galvanized an ongoing uprising in defense of Black lives and for the abolition of police. No matter who is president, anyone who is invested in ending war and militarism must be invested in grassroots and movement-building work. 

Thank you for being part of movement work!

In solidarity,