Nearing the end of this apocalyptically difficult year, the entire nation awaits the apex and hopeful resolution of all the strife: the 2020 Presidential Election. The previous race to the office left expectations low in terms of diplomacy and grace, but high in entertainment value and giggles. The first presidential debate Tuesday satisfied both. Moderator Chris Wallace could barely keep the discussion moving forward as both candidates lost their cool on multiple occasions.
Amidst the chaos, it becomes easy to forget the true purpose of the debate: the candidates expressing their own political ideas and plans while possibly arguing against the policies of the opponent. With this definition in mind, it could be said that the debate was not a total failure. However, by the time Melania Trump and Jill Biden made their ways onto the stage, nobody was happy and there was no winner. There was a clear loser, however, and that was the American people. Dalvin Brown, a writer for USA TODAY, notes that social media at the time of the debate was less negative about Biden than President Trump, but not by much.
“Roughly 67% of the tweets mentioning both presidential candidates were negative in nature,” Brown said. “However, only 60% of the tweets mentioning just Biden were negative compared to 67% of the tweets mentioning just Trump.”
Though most of the substance was lost in the insults and overall verbal cacophony, there were a few moments of the debate that hopefully gave undecided voters something to go off of. Trump’s largest failure of the night was his inability to denounce white supremacy. His deflections and vague statements were responsible for the majority of tweets and Facebook updates slandering his presidency. When Wallace asked Trump to make a statement of opposition to the violent far-right group called the Proud Boys, he couldn’t.
“Proud Boys – stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”
Viewers were also able to witness Trump’s ability to degrade on his opponent’s psyche. Throughout the 90 minutes, he interrupted Biden over 70 times. One particular interjection was the breaking point, it seemed. As Biden was answering the question of whether he would pack the courts, Trump would not let him finish, forcing from Biden the words that many were dying to hear: “Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential.” Whether his exclamation was warranted or hypocritically unpresidential, or both, is subjective. Regardless, he is unlikely to win the favor of swing voters if he continues to lose his composure in future debates.