The 4 biggest takeaways from the final debate

Organize. Volunteer. Make a plan to vote.

SOURCERobert Reich

Biden was more passionate and forceful than he’s been in any debate so far – including in the primary debates. But Trump’s lies and bizarre outbursts were no less toxic. 

Here are the 4 biggest takeaways.

1. Trump tried to run the same campaign he did in 2016 – but it doesn’t work as an incumbent.

Trump accused Joe Biden of being a “typical politician.” He promised, again, that he would release his tax returns “as soon as possible.” He claimed that he would replace Obamacare with something “much better.” And he rehashed some of his favorite racist tropes, like calling some immigrants “low IQ.” 

Sound familiar? It should — he said exactly the same things in 2016. But then he was an outsider. Now that he’s been president for almost 4 years, we can see right through them. 

He’s had an entire term to release his tax returns and replace Obamacare – and he’s failed to do either. He’s filled his administration with lobbyists, corporate insiders, and his own family members — the exact opposite of draining the swamp. And he’s proven himself to be the very worst kind of lying, conman politician he used to rail against. 

They were the same old attacks, but they fell flat.

2. Trump’s conspiracy theories were beyond comprehension.

$3.5 million from Russia? Hunter Biden’s laptop? Spying on Trump’s campaign? 

We all know Trump has a penchant for conspiracy theo ries, but last night he took them to an incoherent low. The conspiracies he conjured up were indecipherable, even to the most ardent Fox News viewer. 

He’s slipping in the polls, his campaign’s cash is evaporating, and he can’t run on COVID or the economy or anything else that matters to the American people. So he’s latching on to more and more bizarre lies. Swing voters have no idea what he’s talking about when he rambles on about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the mayor of Moscow. They have more important problems on their minds, which Trump has failed to address – or has worsened.

3. Biden put a human face to the harm Trump has inflicted on our country.

Throughout the night, Biden refused to sink to Trump’s childish lows. Biden highlighted the human suffering that Trump’s failed coronavirus response has caused. 

He looked directly into the camera and spoke to the American people, talking about our staggering death toll of 220,000; about how firefighters, nurses, teachers, and first responders were going to lose their jobs because Trump was more concerned about playing politics than helping the country; letting them know he understands the grief so many are going through right now. 

And he promised to be a president for all Americans – not just those who voted for him. After four years of Trump’s divisiveness, malignant narcissism, and abject cruelty, Biden’s message of unity and healing could not be more of a contrast – and more welcome.

4. Trump’s lies were more outrageous than ever.

Trump claimed he was “the least racist person in the room,” and that he’d done more for Black Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln. He also downplayed the devastating toll of coronavirus, and even declared that he knew “more about wind” than Biden. 

It was the performance of a desperate con man whose ignorance and racism have been on full display for far too long.

Look, the choice couldn’t be clearer. But we can’t be complacent. We know that Trump will do anything to hold on to power, and there’s no telling what he’ll do as he gets more unhinged. 

So please: Organize. Volunteer. Make a plan to vote. Mobilize your neighbors. We can’t afford anything less than a blowout victory for Joe Biden and Democrats all the way down the ballot.

Just 11 days to go. Let’s make every second count.


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Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.