It has been said that the 2020 election is one of the most important elections in U.S history. The country has been through a lot this past year: COVID-19, police brutality, and racial injustice. To raise the stakes, politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have urged people to go out and vote to protect the future of America.
The first presidential debate that was held on September 29 was an absolute joke. Two grown men were yelling at each other, interrupting each other, and bashing each other like spoiled children. Electing a president is serious, and watching the two bicker like small children made the issue even more stressful.
The moderator, Chris Wallace, had trouble controlling the conversation between the two candidates despite being known for his tough interviews.
The debate quickly escalated, arguably climaxing when Democratic nominee Joe Biden pleaded with President Trump: “Will you shut up, man?”
Naturally, Republican nominee Trump couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
Trump avoided questions and did his best to disrupt topics by interrupting Biden. Though Biden came in appearing ready to be professional, when Trump began interrupting and insulting, he downgraded to engaging in the same behavior.
“Do you understand what this clown is doing?” Biden asked the audience.
Rebecca Cavanaugh, a history major and second year at Seattle Pacific University who intends to vote in the 2020 election said, “It stressed me out. Just watching it made my heart speed up because of the amount of interruptions and bullying and disrespect towards the other person.”
Trump is known for being fiery and aggressive at debates, but this was a whole other level of childishness. We deserve better than this, we deserve candidates who put the people first in the debates. The debate wasn’t about the American people, it was about Trump and Biden.
“His strategy was like, if I can make people not hear Biden, I’ll look better,” said Cavanaugh. However, the reality was that this strategy ended up making Trump look worse. This became especially obvious when Trump became belligerent not just with his opponent, but the moderator as well.
When Chris Wallace was trying to get a question out about the Supreme Court, Trump responded, “I guess I’m debating you, not him, but that’s ok I’m not surprised.”
First of all, that was his job. Moderators are supposed to keep the debates under control, but Trump didn’t listen. Chris Wallace was attempting to do his job as a journalist and moderator and Trump refused to cooperate. His campaign agreed to the two minutes and no interruptions, but he disregarded this agreement
But perhaps the lowest point of the debate, and what caused the most outrage, came when Trump’s response to Chris Wallace when he brought up white supremacy:
Wallace asked Trump, “Are you willing to condemn white supremacy and to say that they need to stand down?”
After being pressured by Wallace and Biden specifically mentioning the Proud Boys, a far-right, white supremacist group. Trump eventually responded with, “ I’d tell [Proud Boys] to stand back and stand by.”
Trump’s attitude toward white supremacists looms over the Republican Party like a dark cloud. “I know several Republicans, and a lot of them say he doesn’t represent the Republican party for them,” said Cavanaugh.
Trump’s hesitancy to condemn white supremacy perhaps constituted one of his most bigoted public moments. He stands alone in his accountability for that. He doesn’t know how to professionally debate, and that’s what cost him its victory.
When the candidates were arguing, Biden stated that Trump was not being smart about handling COVID-19. Trump turned to look at him and scoffed, “Did you use the word smart? You forgot the name of your college. You graduated the lowest in your class, don’t use the word smart with me. There’s nothing smart about you Joe.”
At that point, Chris Wallace butted in and pointed out, “ I think the American people would rather hear about more substantial subjects.” Though perhaps the American people would like to agree, this statement was ironic considering that no one got to hear anything substantial during the entirety of the program.
“It was just children screaming at each other,” said Autumn Reinmuth, a freshman and theatre production major at SPU. “It felt like no one won.”
As to how the debate could have been more professional, Cavanaugh said, “ I think if Trump was more professional, and less Trump, it could’ve been a respectful debate.”
Trump didn’t rely on facts, he relied on entertaining the public. Biden was vague with some questions, but at least he didn’t yell his answers at the moderator.
But if the President’s reelection campaign cannot control his outbursts, the debates are only going to get worse. Additionally, if Biden refuses to take the high road, he will lose face with voters across the nation. No candidate looked appealing that night, and there is little hope for improvement.
We’re supposed to be excited to vote, now the idea of voting is approached with a feeling of dread.
Biden and Trump are not great candidates for President, but they are our only options. We could not vote and leave it to other people to decide the fate of the country, or we could do our best to vote alongside our beliefs out of the candidates that are available.