Presidential Debate: Joe Biden's COVID Shutdown Answer Doesn't Make Sense

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden smiles as he participates in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate with President Donald Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, September 29, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

There is no way anyone was going be enlightened during the debate tonight. But Joe Biden, like so many Democrats, keeps accusing Donald Trump of both being the cause of the 204,000 lost lives and also the cause of the economic downturn. Tonight, in fact, Biden said, “This is his economy. He shut down.”

Does Biden, who argued that his agenda is the Democratic Party’s agenda tonight, not agree with the shutdowns? Because during the Republican National Convention in August, Biden was pushing back against reopening by claiming he would use some yet-to-be-invented executive power to “shut it down” again. “I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives, because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with,” he told ABC News.

The “fundamental flaw” was reopening. For months, Democrats have treated any talk of opening businesses, parks, and churches again as tantamount to condemning millions to death. It is only recently that that there’s been any real debate over the efficacy of shutdowns — and that is mostly about schools. In August, there were a slew of pieces accusing Florida governor Ron DeSantis of manslaughter.

When Trump partially closed travel from China, there were widespread accusations of xenophobia. New York City had a Democratic governor and mayor, and the tri-state area experienced, by far, the highest death totals. Bill De Blasio was down in Chinatown and out in Flushing — one of the hardest hit areas in the New York area — telling people to get out and support local businesses. It’s difficult to imagine that Donald Trump telling people to stay home would have made a difference. I have yet to hear how Biden or Democrats would have kept coronavirus out of the country, either.

Democrats have been pushing this counter-history for months, and it makes no sense. Today, the only plan Biden mentioned related to coronavirus was passing another stimulus bill. Democrats are filibustering a stimulus deal. It has been the reopening that’s mitigated some of the economic disaster. And the reason that has happened is that states didn’t listen to Joe Biden.

I get that coronavirus is going to be politicized, but someone should figure out how Democrats can claim to be able to stop COVID from spreading and keep the economy open. Because you can’t do both.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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