Opinion: First Presidential Debate Yields No Winners
by Sophia Alexandrou
Tuesday, September 29, marked the first debate in the 2020 United States Presidential Election. President Trump faced off against Democratic nominee and former Vice President Biden in a debate that touched on topics like, Covid-19, the Supreme Court, the criminal justice system, and the election results. This debate consisted of so many highs and lows that at some points, it seemed as though I was watching a Saturday Night Live skit. At times, it seemed less like a presidential debate, and more like a televised viewing of three old men yelling at each other.
This was one of the most unprofessional political debates I have ever watched. Trump frequently spoke out of turn, interrupting both the moderator and Biden. While Biden did speak out of turn a few times, it was completely over-shadowed by how frequently the President spoke. Biden said it best with, “Will you please shut up man?” In addition, many of the points with which President Trump interrupted Chris Wallace and Biden barely made any sense. When asked what his administration will do regarding the current climate crisis, Biden responded with a comprehensive plan, letting the American people know that he has put work into responding to this crisis. He mentioned his goals of creating millions of green jobs, switching completely over to renewable energy, building green infrastructure, and many other initiatives. When Trump was asked the same question, he responded with his goals of achieving “immaculate air” and “immaculate water.” He also pointed to his initiatives to accomplish better “forest management” and his plan to plant a billion trees as his solution. It was clear that his main priority regarding climate change is to make sure the corporations who are causing many of these greenhouse gas emissions remain prosperous, rather than the dying planet.
Another important part of the debate was the discussion surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout this past year, due to Trump’s lack of action, over 210,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 under this administration. Despite the United States currently being the most infected wealthy nation in the world, President Trump never failed to defend his work in fighting this pandemic. He claimed that under the Biden administration, millions of people would have died as opposed to the Trump administration’s 200,000. Not only is this a baseless claim, but it almost seemed like he was bragging about only having 200,000 American lives lost. Another strange source of pride the President mentioned during this section of the debate was when he made fun of his opponent for wearing his mask during a global pandemic. However, the real point of frustration during this discussion was when each candidate was discussing their policies for containing the further spread of the virus. Biden discussed how the United States should be providing the protective gear and money to both keep people healthy and keep businesses open. President Trump responded with attacks against Biden and China, as if that accomplishes anything. The President spent about half the time given to him to discuss how his administration dealt with the pandemic, talking about how much people love him. This is another example of the President’s sheer narcissism and disregard for the American people.
Throughout all the incorrect statements and affirmations of his ego that the President stated during the debate, the one thing that really should have made up the mind of the undecided voter was his absolute lack of humanity. Firstly, he brought up Joe Biden’s son, Hunter’s, history with substance abuse. This was while trying to defend himself when Biden brought up his late son, Beau, who was in the military, when Trump referred to the military as “losers.” Putting politics aside, this was an inexcusable move for Trump to make. To not only not acknowledge the fact that he called the those in the military “losers” when two of his opponent’s sons were in the military, one of whom has passed away, but to also bring up the other son’s history with substance abuse is despicably low, even for the President. He treated Hunter Biden’s drug abuse as a character flaw rather than a disease and acted like because of that, Joe Biden was somehow automatically unfit to be the President. It was extremely insensitive to not only the Biden family but also to the millions of Americans suffering with drug abuse. Another unfathomably low point for the President was when he just didn’t condemn white supremacy. That is all there is to it. The President of the United States did not condemn white supremacy when he was given multiple opportunities to. This shows his complete lack of allyship for people of color, it shows where his true allegiance is, and it shows just what type of person he is. Both of these instances left millions of Americans appalled at who they let work in the oval office.
With all this being said, Biden did not do perfectly in this debate either. He frequently let Trump get away with speaking over him and sometimes stooped down to his level. For example, when he called the President a clown, while that was funny, it was also very unprofessional. However, Biden did leaps and bounds better than Trump. While Trump spent the entire time attacking Biden and the moderator, Biden stayed focused on what really mattered: the American people. Trump really only spoke (or rather yelled) at the former Vice President, while Biden made sure multiple times to speak directly to the American people. While there were many things wrong with the President’s performance, that is what really sets the two candidates apart. When Biden looked straight into the camera, it made it clear that his main objective was helping the American people rather than beating Trump in this debate. The same cannot be said for Trump. Trump only cared about his own image and his own ego. In the end, the Americans lost out on an opportunity to understand each candidate’s platform. Political analyst Jake Tapper said it best when he said, “That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.”