Image courtesy of Molly Adams.
While the presidential debate occurred over a week ago, the searing image of the current state of America’s politics has been permanently scarred into the minds of not only the viewers of that night’s events, but to anyone who has had any inclination of opening a news article recently. While it’s likely more people than ever are tuning into the presidential debates due to the upcoming election, it’s fair to claim that when they turned on the live debate between President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden, they could not have foreseen the clash of ideas, personalities and American politics that occurred at the Case Western Reserve University campus last week.
The purpose of the presidential debates is to spark the sharing of ideas that will convince the nation why a particular candidate will turn the country around or improve the condition it is already in. Many voters tune in to watch these to help decide who they will be choosing to support in the upcoming weeks. The debates are critical to allow voters to decide which issues matter to them. For an election in which one candidate is the current president, this notion shifts slightly. While the incumbent candidate fights to prove that another four years of their leadership will be beneficial for the nation, they also must defend the past four years they have served the highest office in America. Their choices, actions and political acts all fall under scrutiny in these debates while the opposition can primarily focus on looking ahead and reacting to the current administration. For a candidate who has had a strong term as president, this task would seem easy, however President Trump has faced criticism for a significant number of events in the past four years. Vice President Biden, formerly holding office in the Obama administration, had to prove himself as a worthy candidate for the presidency by explaining his approach to leading the nation into better times.
As soon as the debate began, it took approximately 10 minutes for chaos to begin on both sides, with moderator Chris Wallace attempting to reign in both men with limited success. Often, all three voices could be heard speaking over the next loudest in order to prove why they were right. However, even when asked specific topics where both candidates could have displayed leadership towards some of America’s largest issues (The Trump and Biden Records, The Supreme Court, COVID-19, The Economy, Race and Violence in our Cities, and The Integrity of the Election), conversations and debate monologues were reduced to name calling and finger pointing. While Trump attempted to highlight his economic success, Biden attempted to connect with the viewers at home as he recognized a critical window for relating to the everyday American by ignoring Trump’s commentary. Trump faltered several times when pressed about his stance on climate change, white supremacy, and his response to COVID with answers that did not sway from the realities the country is facing, and yet Biden was unable at times to use these openings to his advantage to prove his own legitimacy.
Walking away from the debate, there were no winners. Everyone lost – Trump, Biden, and America. With even the events of the past week, there might not be hope for a saving grace in the Presidential debates. With the Vice Presidential debates being lauded as more professional and decisive than the discourse between the two presidential candidates and President Trump’s refusal for a virtual debate due to COVID concerns, there might not be another chance for Trump or Biden to prove themselves to the undecided voters. The news is changing every day and we can only hope that in the coming weeks, we can be provided with an opportunity for these men to prove themselves as worthy to hold the highest office in the USA. •