Opinion: First 2020 presidential debate a mess

Kathryn Ryan, Editor

If you weren’t aware, President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden participated in the first of three presidential debates on the evening of Sept. 29, and to say it was a debate is a misrepresentation: It was a petty argument between two boastful and cocky white men.

There was very little policy discussion, but no lack of insults. There were more personal attacks between the two than anything else, and neither would let his opponent finish a sentence.

A lot of news articles are criticizing Biden for telling Trump to “shut up” mid-debate, but I find this to be a distraction from the actual conversations that were held between the two. When asked to condemn white supremacy in reference to the right-wing group the Proud Boys, Trump responded with the elusive “stand back, and stand by” statement, and continued on about the need to stop “antifa and the far left.” With this, Trump condoned white supremacy on a global platform. To put the focus on Biden telling the president to shut up is beside the point, and in my opinion, it was about time someone said it.

If you are reading the numerous articles (some being misleading) posted between the debate and now, you might also be confused about who was the antagonist in this debate. News flash: it was Trump.

Right out of the gate, Trump was hostile and arrogant and refused to produce any productive conversation, and instead spewed personal insults about Biden and his family. Trump directly attacked Biden’s son Hunter about his addiction history and lied about him being dishonorably discharged from the Army. There was no intention to discuss policy or plans to better our situation after either one is elected; Trump’s intention was to stand on stage and attempt to embarrass Biden in every facet. This immature and disrespectful approach led the debate to a dead end, and resulted in worldwide disgust.

It’s not just the US population who is disappointed by this performance, news sites around the globe are chiming in – “Humiliating, grueling, and childish,” said the French newspaper Libération. The UK times wrote, “The clearest loser from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was America.” “Never had American politics sunk so low,” Italy’s La Repubblica wrote this morning. The show of political peacocking was a theater act with a disappointing and inconclusive ending, leaving the Americans feeling lost and annoyed.

I could go on and on about how pointless and useless this discussion was, or I could even say that I know 100 fifth-graders who could hold a better debate than our two presidential candidates, but that won’t help this frying pan of a situation. What will help is taking action to better this country into our own hands.

As cringy and painful the debate was, we must take advantage of this situation and light fires under our own butts. It is clear that our current president and future president (whoever that may be), are nowhere near up to our expected political and ethical standards. We, the American people, can no longer stand for this tom-foolery. The President of the United States is supposed to be a voice for the people, not a global embarrassment. Our single, unalienable right to vote must be utilized by us to change our situation and better our own country, because as it became obvious during the debate, our President isn’t going to help. So I urge every single individual to check your state’s voter registration deadlines, request a mail-in or absentee ballot, and please vote.


Kat Ryan is an SNU student.