Charlatan Magazine

A Tale of Two Cities

OCTOBER 16, 2020

The U.S. presidential candidates held simultaneous Town Hall meetings last night. A split screen demonstrated two parties, constitutional philosophies, and countries trying to coexist as one.

via NPR

It was a metaphor for a divided country.

Over 18 million Americans have already cast their vote whilst the incumbent Donald Trump and democratic contender Joe Biden took questions from prospective voters just 18 days away from Election Day.

Two Town Hall events, held simultaneously, replaced the 2nd presidential debate that was canceled in the wake of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. They highlighted the sharp contrast between the two candidates’ approach to American politics but, more critically, offered insight to their approach to a forthcoming constitutional crisis.

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Key Moments from Miami

A combative Trump, sparring with moderator Samantha Guthrie on NBC, claimed the 2020 election is rife with fraud, and questioned whether masks can help combat the spread of COVID-19. Biden, confiding with moderator George Stephanopoulos of ABC, delivered policy-heavy answers that focused on rebuilding America’s infrastructure in the wake of a pandemic that’s consumed 216,000 Americans lives.

  • Trump disavowed white supremacists, but refused to denounce the QAnon conspiracy theory — which claims that prominent Democrats are running child sex-trafficking rings — and instead praised its followers. “I do know they are against pedophilia, they fight it very hard,” Trump said, before claiming he knew nothing about the conspiracy theory when pressed by Guthrie.

  • Trump seemed to confirm a recent Times report that he has $421 million in outstanding debts.

  • Trump questioned whether masks are effective at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, contradicting the consensus among public health experts, including those in his own administration.

  • Trump said he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he lost but followed with claims about voter fraud and predicted the vote would come before the Supreme Court.

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Key Moments from Philadelphia

Biden outlined his plans to combat the pandemic and revive the economy by prioritizing testing, funding local and state governments, hiking taxes dramatically on corporations and the wealthy, i.e. those who earn over $400K per year, and creating a historic FDR style infrastructure boom rooted in clean energy, healthcare, and education:

  • Biden deferred when asked whether he supports adding justices to the Supreme Court, an idea known as Court-Packing. “It depends on how this turns out,” he said of the ongoing confirmation hearings for Trump’s latest nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

  • Biden pledged to reverse Trump administration policies that discriminate against transgender people.

  • Biden said the president deserved “a little credit for an accord between Israel and Arab nations,” but accused Trump of “abandoning American allies, emboldening autocrats and having no coherent plan for foreign policy.”

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A Letter from the Editor

A Tale of Two Cities, an 1859 historical novel by Charles Dickens, was set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story is set against the conditions that led to the Reign of Terror. It is considered the single greatest work of historical fiction, and the best selling novel of all time.

Dickens' famous opening sentence introduces the ethos which led to the French Revolution:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. Charles Dickens

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