Disarray and Disappointment: The First Presidential Debate

The first presidential debate is discouraging for anyone looking for a discussion of ideas and policies.

By DonkeyHotey CC BY-SA 2.0
By DonkeyHotey CC by 2.0

The first presidential debate of the 2020 election took place on Tuesday at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The moderator, Fox News host Chris Wallace, touched upon six major topics: The Trump and Biden Records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election. Each candidate spoke for two minutes on questions in each category. Both candidates came out ready to rumble and traded jabs against each other. The event as a whole resembled school yard shouting match more than a presidential debate.

President Trump seemed aggressive out of the gate, interrupting Biden and Wallace multiple times. Biden also made digs at Trump’s remarks throughout the debate, calling him “the worst president America has ever seen,” and repeatedly calling out the president for lying. Both candidates were combative and made snide remarks while discussing a variety of issues. They both criticized each other’s records, and told America to be wary for who they voted for. It was hard for the moderator to keep control of the event with both candidates regularly talking over each other.

First up was the Supreme Court. President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the bench over the weekend. Democrats believe that the president is trying to push through a nominee before the election. Biden argued that the people should have a say in the president who nominates a justice and that one should be appointed after the election. The debate then moved on to Obamacare, with Trump saying that under his presidency drug prices have lowered and that insulin is as plentiful as “water.” Biden contended that Medicaid has been available to many Americans to help people with their medications’ costs. At one time, Biden seemed aggravated with Trump’s constant interrupting, saying, “Will you shut up, man?”

The debate shifted back to COVID-19, an event affecting all of our daily lives. Biden argued that Trump knew the extent of the disease and purposefully hid the truth from the American people and didn’t send experts to investigate the virus in China. He said that Trump still has no plan. Trump said that many governors agree with his plan, to which Biden chuckled. He said that he has acquired appropriate PPE. He also said that many more people would have died under Biden’s watch. Trump said that Biden “didn’t have it in his blood” to handle the situation, referencing his handling of H1N1 and swine flu. Trump contended that America was weeks away from a vaccine, to which Biden referenced Trump’s remarks of injecting disinfectant in the body to cure the virus and saying that the president previously said that COVID-19 would disappear like a miracle.

The debate then progressed to the economy, where each candidate got to make their claim of how they thought the economy would bounce back. President Trump believes the economy will have a V-shaped recovery, which means it will immediately regain its strength if the states would open up, saying “They can wear masks.They can social distance.” Biden believes that the economy would have a K-shaped economy. This means that the middle and lower classes are suffering, while the upper-classes are flourishing. The debate pivoted to the matter of taxes, especially Trump’s taxes, prevalent because of a New York Times report that claims the president paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. Trump claims that he paid millions of dollars in taxes. He believes that Biden’s plan to raise taxes will cut jobs and cause a depression.

Of course, debating these topics got contentious at times. President Trump interrupted Biden multiple times, to which moderator Chris Wallace objected, saying, “Frankly, you’ve [Trump] been the one doing most of the interrupting.” Biden called the president a clown, saying, “It’s hard to get any words in with this clown.” When Trump said the American people want good healthcare, not Obamacare, Biden chuckled and said, “Good healthcare.” Wallace tried to calm down the combative atmosphere, but had to reassert his control over the event regularly, saying, “I am the moderator of this debate,” and said all questions would come from him. Biden seemed angered throughout the debate but stood up to the president’s remarks by challenging the president’s record on various issues.

As the debate moved into the topic of race and violence throughout America, Biden acknowledged that there are some “bad apples” in the police force, but said that most officers are generally good people. Trump again emphasized his mantra of law and order and said that there was much more violence in the Obama-Biden administration than under his presidency. When asked if he would reject white supremacy, Trump offered a false rejection which some white supracist groups took as encouragement.

President Trump repeated his claim that the election will be rigged. Asked if they would ask their supporters to wait out the results, Trump responded he would not, while Biden said that the election would be a long process and urged his supporters to accept the results, once they are certified by an independent agency..

This debate gave people across America a way to see both candidates’ styles side-by-side. It is unclear if this debate will change any voters’ minds. There are still two more chances for both candidates to get their views across to the country’s voters. We’ll have to see if either candidate changes his style and tone. But we won’t truly know the outcome of this election until November 3rd, likely even later, when the American people decide who did a better job of swaying voters over to their side.