President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden squared off in a presidential debate Sep. 29 like no other.
It was a debate rife with drama, tension, insults, and falsehoods eliciting feelings of shame, anger, and sadness from many members of the electorate. Moderator and Fox News anchor, Chris Wallace, condemning the performance from the candidates, says, “I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.”
As President Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden’s two-minute speech blocks–time limits which the White House set and agreed to–citizens found the debate disorganized and unprofessional.
Biden called President Trump a “clown” after President Trump prevented him from responding to a question about healthcare. They continued to argue while Trump pointed out the similarities between Biden’s insurance plan and Bernie Sanders’ plan. Trump defended his side by saying he wants “to give [citizens] better health care at a lower price,” which Biden refused to accept after stating Trump wants to take Obamacare away, without a concrete replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Trump and the GOP have tried to repeal the ACA, but the Supreme Court blocked their measures.
Expectedly, the topic of Black Lives Matter and minority lives were brought up. A major issue many journalists and viewers pointed out was President Trump’s refusal to openly criticize white supremacists. When specifically asked to “condemn white surpemacists and militia groups, ” Trump actively dismissed and avoided the question. He told the Proud Boys, a far-right neofascist group, to “stand back and stand by,” which pundits have said is a blatant endorsement of domestic terrorism. He continued saying that Antifa, an anti-facist ideology (as claimed by FBI Director Christopher Wray), was a left wing terrorist organization that has yet to be dealt with.
The COVID-19 pandemic was yet another topic viewers were eager to hear the candidates’ stances on. Biden started with the statistics of the deaths in the country, how cases are still rising and families have been left with “empty chairs at breakfast tables.” Attacking Trump’s lack of leadership as it pertains to the virus, Biden referred to Trump’s habit of downplaying the seriousness of the virus despite knowledge about its gravity, ignoring Center for Disease Control guidelines, disrespecting medical experts, and telling reporters that the death toll “is what it is.” Trump interjected to say many have congratulated him on such a great job dealing with the pandemic. He went on to say that he did supply masks and ventilators, claiming that Biden wouldn’t have. He also pointed out that Biden lost at least 13,000 Americans from the swine flu during his time in Washington, to which Biden responded that 200,000 lives lost clearly outweighed 13,000.
In response, Biden emphasized the fact that Trump’s own CDC director said they could lose even more people if President Trump didn’t set harsher restrictions and that a vaccine would be available much later than Trump claims it to be. President Trump also mocked Biden’s wearing of a mask, saying Biden wears the biggest mask he has ever seen. In contrast, President Trump rarely wears a mask, only in the last few months has publicly encouraged mask wearing, and holds large scale rallies where many in his crowds do not wear masks. It was just confirmed Friday, Oct. 2, that President Trump and the First Lady are positive for COVID-19 and that Trump is experiencing cold-like symptoms. Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, are COVID negative. It is unclear what this means for the next round of presidential debates.
Trump also mocked Biden’s deceased son, Beau Biden, who was an Iraq war veteran and passed away from a brain tumor. Many thought it was an unscrupulous attack. Biden also tried defending his other son, Hunter Biden, whom Trump mocked for his administrative discharge from the military due to drug use.
As the final debate topic, voting ballots and the integrity of the 2020 election were deliberated. Biden supports letting people vote however they want to vote, whether that be through the mail or in-person. He also claimed Trump’s Homeland Security and FBI experts say there’s no evidence that mail-in ballots will be a source of manipulation or cheating. The election results may even be delayed to ensure an accurate count. He explains that Trump is only saying otherwise to scare people away from voting and that all eligible voters should vote as they will be the ones deciding the outcome of this election. To contradict Biden, Trump claimed the mail-in ballot process will be fraudulent and that some ballots with his name on them had already been discovered in waste baskets and rivers. Trump claimed states simply sending mail-in ballots to their registered residents will lead to ballots being double-counted (even though voting more than once in the same election is a felony in many states). He says this suggests the results of this presidential election cannot be trusted, and he has been reported as not committing to accepting the results of the election or peacefully transferring power should he lose. Even though only nine states and the District of Columbia are sending out ballots to registered voters, President Trump has blocked funding for and tried to systematically dismantle the US Post Office, in an effort to discourage voters from voting by mail.
Many are anxious to know how the Vice Presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence Wednesday, Oct. 7 will go. Many are anticipating, and hoping, for it to be more civilized.