By Luis Armando Sanchez Diaz, October 21 2020—
The first U.S. presidential debate between former Vice-President Joe Biden and incumbent president Donald Trump, took place in Cleveland, Ohio and was moderated by Chris Wallace, Fox News anchor.
Many topics were discussed during the 90-minute debate between the candidates that ranged from the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Trump administration, to the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, climate change and the state of the economy.
People were really looking forward to watching the debate — around 73 million tuned in as reported by CNN — to get a more complete overview of the proposals and plans put forward by each nominee. Sadly, voters came out of it with almost nothing new since none of the topics were discussed thoroughly and precisely, as both candidates — especially president Trump — talked over the other, preventing a real debate.
“That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck,” noted Jack Tapper, CNN anchor. “We’ll talk about who won the debate, who lost the debate … one thing’s for sure, the American people lost.” said Tapper.
This opinion from the CNN anchor was a predominant one among political commentators and pundits at several networks and newspapers worldwide.
“First U.S presidential debate ‘not a very good night’ for the U.S,” Alexander Panetta of the CBC, titled their analysis.
Social media was no exception to this view as users posted their outrage regarding the behaviour by both candidates. The ideas and comments presented in the debate not only reflect the Democratic and Republican platforms but the sentiments that run deeply within the electorate. Both sides of the aisle accused the other of being “too radical” and shared their sentiments that four-years of a Biden or Trump administration will be the worst thing that could happen to America.
President Trump controlled the conversation by giving false or misleading information in most cases. On the other hand, Biden tried to measure his words and be the adult in the room but ultimately fell into Trump’s reality show spell.
“Will you shut up, man?” said Biden when the president interrupted him when answering a question about a vacancy in the Supreme Court.
In previous election cycles that statement would have become controversial and probably had damaged the integrity of the candidate who said it. It would seem inconceivable that a presidential candidate would talk to their opponent in that way. Though, 2020 has proven to be all but conventional given the unprecedented events that have happened.
Exit polls showed that Joe Biden won the debate by a wide margin. Although presidential debates don’t cause much movement in the polls, the vice-president scored up some points after the debate in several of the battleground states. Biden currently holds a comfortable lead of 10.2 points nationally according to Real Clear Politics as of Oct. 12, mostly due to president Trump testing positive for the coronavirus.
Two weeks are left for the campaign to come to an end, and as 2016 showed, the race is still too close to call. Even if Biden holds double-digit leads in recent polls nationwide and important leads in battleground states, in politics one day is an eternity and anything can happen.
Unfortunately the tensions will endure regardless of the outcome of the election. There’s also going to be lots of dissatisfaction with the outcome. There are feelings — enhanced by president Trump — that using mail-in ballots won’t guarantee a trusted result of the election.
You’ll hear messages from the losing campaign like “rigged election” or “stolen election” which can cause lasting damage to one of the biggest democracies in the world by producing sentiments of untrustworthiness among voters of their electoral system.
The important element to look into in a couple of weeks is if the victory speech given by the winner lays out a real, heartfelt outreach to the losing side to unite the country or that person only sinks into his own way of thinking and only amplifies the voices of his supporters.
After Nov. 3, the things that are said will no longer be a part of a campaign message or slogan. They will be a part of the governing agenda that will be dictated by the man who lives in the White House.
Change is urgently needed in many aspects of the U.S. government and whoever wins the election will need to work tirelessly to prevent a social, political and economical fallout. The tipping point is now, and it must be addressed or America will no longer be the greatest superpower on earth as no leadership example will be coming from Washington D.C.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.