The third and final presidential debate was held last night in Nashville. Joe Biden was finally able to answer questions without constant interruption and was strong on substance and in his responses to Trump attacks. Trump was calmer and less combative, but he somehow managed to lie MORE than in the first debate. Overall, Trump will get praise for being less of an asshole, but Biden was more effective at reaching the voters he wanted to reach–working class Americans who don’t look to the stock market to gauge their well-being. Trump took credit for things he didn’t do, and re-wrote the past, as he often does, but he went out of his way to paint himself as an outsider even though he’s been president for four years. Somebody needs to fix this mess is not a great campaign slogan when you’re the one in office. In an especially powerful moment, Biden pointed out that Trump only cares about Red States while he wants to be president of ALL the states. Biden also stated that a leader who allows 220,000 pandemic deaths on his watch should not be re-elected. Biden was asked about the separation of children from their parents at the border and described the actions of the people in charge as “criminal.” Trump’s attitude toward the separations seemed defensive and callous, and he ended with the astonishing lie that the children were “so well taken care of.”

Biden and Trump were asked about climate change, and Trump gave his stock “I want clean air and water” speech, whereas Biden acknowledged that we need to transition from fossil fuels to renewables if we want to reach zero carbon emissions before it’s too late. Trump accused Biden of wanting to destroy the oil industry, yet a huge majority of Americans grasp that oil is a dirty and dying business. Just yesterday I came across a graph from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, that illustrates the gradual, catastrophic change occurring in the Laptev Sea in the Arctic. The trend over the past forty years is undeniable, and yet another horrible indicator that climate change is happening on a dangerous scale:

Line graph time series of daily Arctic sea ice extent in the Laptev Sea for each year from 1979 to 2019. 2020 is shown in a red line and is the lowest on record for this time of year

It won’t be long before the Arctic summer is entirely free of the sea ice that otherwise would allow the growth of phytoplankton–the nutritional foundation of the web of ocean life. Climate change is a dire emergency.

The debate didn’t seem destined to disrupt the dynamic of the presidential race. Biden didn’t hurt himself and Trump didn’t do anything game-changing. So we’re left with an election in eleven days that will certainly see Joe Biden win the popular vote by millions, yet may be stolen by Trump depending on a handful of key states. Much has been made of the enthusiasm that Trump voters feel for their cult leader, and while the enthusiasm for Biden among democrats isn’t at “cult leader levels,” the passion of Democrats to vote Trump from office eclipses anything I’ve seen or experienced in my lifetime. With the crush of anxiety and distress that tens of millions of Americans are feeling at the moment because a corrupt fascist might somehow remain in office, it’s astonishing that what’s left of our Covid-ravaged economy isn’t grinding to a complete stop. It’s easy to imagine a national shortage of sleeping aids in the next ten days.

But there are plenty of ways to get involved, and there are plenty of activities happening in the next few days. Rep Antonio Delgado is holding a Get Out The Vote event today that needs volunteers:

He’s also holding a Trivia Night event next Wednesday:

Karen Smythe, local candidate for State Senate, is holding a virtual concert event on Monday with several members of the epic rock band Jefferson Starship. Details here:

And there are numerous virtual events being held to raise money for specific swing states. For example, the cast of Seinfeld is holding an online reunion event TONIGHT to benefit Texas Democrats. And most of the main cast members of Happy Days are holding an online reunion event to benefit Wisconsin Democrats on Sunday night.

So you can help a local candidate, then kick back and enjoy a walk down memory lane while supporting an important swing state, all from the comfort of your home.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

The colors in the Hudson Valley are beautiful. Have a restful autumn weekend.

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