Millions of Americans watched a raucous, 90-minute first of three Presidential debates earlier this week that highlighted the choice that voters face in November.
As President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred over issues, often interrupting each other and making personal attacks, it was difficult for the audience to separate fact from accusations and chaos.
Both candidates addressed issues ranging from the recession to the COVID-19 pandemic, racism and calls for curbing police violence, taxes, the environment, health care and the integrity of what has become perhaps the most contentious Presidential election in most Americans’ lifetimes.
Although retail was not one of the topics discussed, what a year it has been for retailers. The industry had been experiencing major transformation when 2020 brought new challenges and hardship to communities across Washington state and the nation. We did what we’ve always done well – we adapted and innovated putting in place guidelines and COVID procedures that returned shoppers to stores whether through curbside, online or limited in-store experiences.
The pandemic was an eye opener however as it gave government far reaching control over the fate of our businesses and communities locally and nationally. Sure, as an industry we are accustomed to being on the front lines of emergencies. But what happens when government shuts down business creating confusion and forcing us to operate in inconsistent and sometimes unfair ways?
As we consider the role that government has played during the pandemic we need to think long and hard about our future and the policy positions that will still be decided. In spite of the chaotic debate one thing that is clear is each candidate’s strongly held and varied views on important issues like the future of trade, government spending, the economy, health and police reform, regulatory control and environmental regulation.
I’m pretty certain the debate was not a win for Americans. If we’re lucky the next two debates are a chance to reset and focus on the important issues that will impact us all.