On Tuesday night, Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine — the running mates of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively — took the stage for their first and only debate of this election.
Like the presidential debate that preceded it, the conversation was comprised primarily of fiery cross-talking and a stark difference in policy and worldview. To be frank, Pence and Kaine agreed on very little. Still, though, there were some moments where the candidates seemed to share a view or belief similar to those of their opponent.
As we reported in June, Americans actually agree on quite a bit. Unfortunately, a divisive campaign season has ignored many of those opportunities in which our seemingly polarized party system could work together. Below, we've pulled together five instances where the vice presidential candidates seemed to agree — and where it could be possible for both sides to reach across the aisle.
1. Creating a safe zone in Syria.
One of the greatest issues facing the world right now is the humanitarian crisis born out of the civil war in Syria. In the last two weeks alone, 96 children have been killed in the northern city of Aleppo. A ceasefire orchestrated by the United States ended after humanitarian supplies were bombed, an incident the U.S. blamed Russia for.
Now, the United States has formally suspended talks with Russia on Syria.
Despite differing views about how to handle Syrian refugees here in America, Kaine and Pence did agree during that they hope a "humanitarian safe zone" is implemented to protect Syrians from being bombarded by the Syrian government.
While Pence advocated for a no-fly zone — something Obama has resisted doing — Kaine merely confirmed the alignment with Pence and Trump: "Hillary and I also agree that the establishment of humanitarian zones in northern Syria with the provision of international human aid, consistent with the U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed in February 2014, would be a very, very good idea," he said.
2. Respect for personal faith.
In one of the more powerful exchanges during the debate, Kaine and Pence both opened up about their faith and how it has affected or been challenged by their public policy. Kaine, a devout Irish Catholic, and Pence, who said he "made a personal decision for Christ" as a freshman in college, both expressed that they were pro-life.
"I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kaine's sincere faith," Pence said. "I truly do."
Despite agreeing on their personal religious views, Kaine and Pence's stances differ on how those views should inform policy.
"God says before you were formed in the womb, I knew you, and so for my first time in public life, I sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life," Pence said. "I couldn't be more proud to be standing with Donald Trump, who's standing for the right to life."
Kaine, on the other hand, said that despite his beliefs, he would not support overturning the Supreme Court ruling that gave women more freedom to terminate a pregnancy.
"We really feel like you should live fully and with enthusiasm the commands of your faith," Kaine said. "But it is not the role of the public servant to mandate that for everybody else."
3. We need "community policing."
The term "community policing" is a loosely defined phrase that has many different meanings.
For some, community policing is at the most basic level a police department making an effort to assign certain officers to certain neighborhoods, thereby building relationships between community members and cops. The logic is simple: if police know the people they are serving, they can better serve them, build more trust, and thus avoid many of the tragic encounters we've seen throughout the country in the last decade.
Importantly, the topic of whether "community policing" works is still up for debate.
"The way you make communities safer and the way you make police safer is through community policing," Kaine said. "You build the bonds between the community and the police force, build bonds of understanding, and then when people feel comfortable in their communities, that gap between the police and the communities they serve narrows."
Pence — whose father was a cop — tactfully agreed with Kaine's assessment.
"At the risk of agreeing with you, community policing is a great idea," Pence said. "It's worked in the Hoosier state. And we fully support that."
4. Social Security is important.
For a long time, conservatives and liberals have had differing ideas about what constitutes a good Social Security plan. The main difference is that many Democrats want to continue the current Social Security plan, which takes tax money from middle-aged and young taxpayers to help fund retirement benefits for the elderly. Some conservatives — most notably George W. Bush — have proposed the "privatizing" of Social Security, which essentially means using low-risk investment plans to help grow retirement funds.
In the latter plan, retirees run the risk of losing all their savings in the event of a market downturn or crash like the one we saw in 2008. Currently, Social Security benefits are guaranteed, unless everyone suddenly stops paying their taxes.
On Tuesday night, Kaine accused Trump of calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme and advocating for privatizing it. It's true Trump once described Social Security that way in a book from nearly two decades ago, but the claim earned a "mostly false" rating from Politifact since no such plan exists on the Trump and Pence ticket.
Still, when it came up, both candidates emphasized the importance of Social Security.
"We're going to protect Social Security, which is one of the greatest programs that the American government has ever done," Kaine said. "Social Security has enabled people to retire with dignity and overwhelmingly not be in poverty."
Pence, denying that Trump would ever privatize Social Security, made a similar promise.
"All Donald Trump and I have said about Social Security is [that] we're going to meet our obligations to our seniors," Pence said. "We're going to reform government programs so we can meet the obligations of Social Security and Medicare."
5. Both campaigns could be a little kinder.
During the debate, the word "insult" was uttered 11 times.
Most of them were Kaine and Pence accusing the other campaign of being "insult-driven." Kaine cited the comments Trump has leveled towards Hispanics, African Americans, a Gold Star family and others. Pence scoffed at Kaine's accusation, then reminded everyone of how Clinton was recently accused of calling half of Trump's supporters "irredeemable" and "deplorables."
In this instance, both campaigns appear to be right in some sense. Although Trump's brashness has become a signature part of his campaign. Clinton's "deplorables" gaffe was a mistake she had to apologize for, and supporters of both camps have spewed vitriol towards each other online.
But when it comes to discussing the issues Americans need to worry about, throwing insults back and forth does little good. A little kindness and understanding could go a long way.
Cover image via Shutterstock.