After watching the First Presidential Debate, I can confidently say that it was the worst debate in our country’s history. With the array of personal attacks in the absence of substance, it is of no surprise that pundits across numerous media outlets are calling it dumpster fire. With that being said, here are some of my key takeaways from Tuesday’s debate.
First, it is abundantly clear that Democratic nominee Joe Biden wanted to distance himself from his party’s progressive wing as much as possible. From saying that Medicare for All will only apply to low income individuals, to rejecting cutting police funding, to explicitly condemning the violence in the streets of some of our major cities, Biden painted himself as a moderate candidate in an effort to swing any undecided voters to his side. While I saw this as a home run for the Biden campaign, many on the far left will be disappointed by this move. Biden; however, did not make it through the debate mistake-free, as notable gaffes included refusing to say whether or not he would pack the Supreme Court, being unable to name any law enforcement organizations that backed him, and at times, stooping to the president’s level, telling him to “shut up” as well as calling him a “clown” and “the worst president in American history.”
For President Trump, a large ego overshadowed much substance as the night wore on. Rather than expanding on his positions of reopening the economy and creating American jobs, Trump attacked Biden’s family, called Biden “stupid” and went toe to toe with moderator Chris Wallace. Instead of listening to the other side of the aisle, Trump constantly interrupted, despite his campaign agreeing to the debate format. Particularly, with Trump trailing in the polls and having more to gain in this debate, he still did nothing to sway undecided Republicans and independents that may agree with him politically but dislike his style. Instead, he further alienated himself and his base from the general population who was looking for a substantive, civil debate, and turned it into a disgrace. As a Conservative, seeing the face of the Republican Party conduct himself in such a way is reprehensible, and I hope that other conservatives follow suit in condemning Tuesday’s debacle.
One final thought I had as the debate concluded is the high degree of polarization that has dominated our political world over the last several years. We often ask ourselves why this is, despite the fact that this same divisiveness is literally right in front of our televisions between the current president and the former vice president. We see both sides of the aisle in our everyday lives react with vitriol as we hear ideas we do not like. Why should this surprise us when two of the most important people in our country cannot even get through a ninety-minute debate without interrupting one another during every segment? Why should we expect anything more than a society where we want to “own” the other side, when the Presidential Debate is all about demeaning one liners and personal insults? Overall, if I had to declare a winner, I would say Biden had the edge in this chaotic debate, but that win is by default when considering the humiliating conduct of the president.
Riley Dulin – Political Editor