Aficionados of ice cream will set off on a long discourse on which flavour, chocolate or vanilla of ice cream is more appealing. Lovers of the vanilla variety will extol on its pure natural taste derived from the extracts of vanilla pods, while chocolate lovers will undoubtedly highlight the richness of the buttery cocoa from the seeds of the cacao tree, giving the final product its distinct colour. There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to the product appeal.
Indeed, such questions prevail among those yet undecided. Just like chocolate and vanilla, it is Biden and Trump. A good yardstick is to ask the question: Is America a better place today than it was four years ago? For many, the answer should be their guide to the voting booth
Such seems to be also the case with the upcoming US presidential elections a month away. The recent debate between the two candidates was followed by quite a few people here and has left distinct impressions among the viewers. The first of three presidential debates was held on September 29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Why it interests people in the region to know who will be in the White House for the next four years is because policies implemented in regional politics often have a US hand.
In the US, presidential debates have lost their attraction in recent times with many viewers preferring to switch on to other channels. In fact, a month before the debates, the speaker of the US House of Representative Nancy Pelosi was not optimistic of any substance being raised by the President during the debates. Speaking to reporters, she said “I don’t think that there should be any debates. I do not think that the President of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts. I wouldn’t legitimise a conversation with him nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States.”
Such a dismissal by a senior veteran in the US government however did not deter some of our own who watched the entire show live into the late hours of the night. Hussein, a retired professor was very critical of the juvenile tactics used by one of the candidates in his approach to the debate. “I felt that the President was constantly interrupting and avoiding the issue during the debate and it was very annoying that he was being allowed to do so. I wanted to hear legitimate responses but all I got was a rehash of how great things were under his charge.”
Mona, a successful businesswoman says that Mr. Biden just did not make any sense to her in terms of what he was going to offer. Holding dual citizenship, Mona intends to vote in the elections this year via absentee ballot and debate has left her more confused than ever. “I wanted a fresh perspective from the candidate and I didn’t get any,” she lamented saying that perhaps she will cast her vote for Mr. Trump.
US presidential debates are a means to help the undecided or the wavering ones to finalise their choice but this first of three duels left more questions than answers. While some polls have indicated that Mr. Biden came off better during the evening, there has been no clear and obvious winner. Mr. Trump did tweet a screenshot of an unscientific online poll from C-SPAN’S Twitter account that showed him winning 69% to 19% for Biden, while two major media outlets showed Biden leading.
Samir, a Saudi with a US green card who has not been able to return to his mother’s home in Georgia because of the Coronavirus was another viewer who was left unimpressed with the proceedings. “While I am young and not eligible to vote, I do care about what happens to the US. My maternal family is there and it is important that the right man should take charge for the benefit of all of us. But from what I have seen, I am not sure. Perhaps the next two debates scheduled for later this month will help bring the best man forwards.”
Indeed, such questions prevail among those yet undecided. Just like chocolate and vanilla, it is Biden and Trump. A good yardstick is to ask the question: Is America a better place today than it was four years ago? For many, the answer should be their guide to the voting booth.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena