On the 29th of September, 2020, the whole country watched in anticipation as Donald Trump and Joe Biden walked on-stage, ready to advocate for their beliefs. Expectations were all over the place, with some having their hopes high, while others were apprehensive. However, after the event was over, the consensus was virtually unanimous: the first presidential debate was a complete and utter disaster.
It is needless to say that Americans were not particularly fond of how the first debate went. The two candidates were constantly sparring aggressively. President Trump acted in an especially uncouth manner, acting rude and disrespectful to his opponent and hardly letting Biden get a word in.
It was difficult to even decipher what the two men were saying, and the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, was forced to disrupt Trump and Biden’s catfights multiple times to maintain some semblance of order. Even so, they continued this behavior until the very end, to the audience’s dismay.
Many RHS students shared a very grim view of U.S. politics. Colin Delabie, a freshman at RHS stated, “I thought it was an insult to politics, from the name calling to the lies and the interruptions. It was a disgrace.” One student bluntly stated, “The children [Trump and Biden] need help. Trump needs to take COVID-19 seriously, and needs to let other people speak. He’s extremely rude and definitely has a God complex.” Another student remarked, “the first presidential debate gave us the exact reason why our country has made little to no progress with COVID-19. It’s just pathetic.”
When asked for his reaction, Jake Rubenstein, a senior at RHS and one of the leaders of the RHS Democrats commented, “I knew right away, public reaction was going to be crazy and there was going to be a lot of people who were going to be very defeatist about it, saying ‘Well this is the death of democracy, this is the point of no return, we’re so screwed, this is such a 2020 thing,’ But as true as I think that might be, I don’t think it’s anything new. We didn’t learn anything new about either candidate. The people who support each candidate will not have their minds changed.”
Additionally, Rubenstein expressed his wishes for the next debate, saying “What I hope for both sides is that they have more of an opportunity to detail their policy because I think that’s the biggest way to fight polarization, to get rid of those stigmas that you think about the other party,” and that “if they just go into what their morals and beliefs are and let the people decide, I think that’s the most natural and ideal way of how the democratic system should work.”
The best case scenario for the next debate on October twenty-first is that Trump and Biden are able to have a civilized discussion that informs the public about who they are as candidates, but from what has been shown so far, the worst case scenario is the most likely outcome. After all, the worst case scenario has already happened; a chaotic spat that has no value whatsoever, and only served to divide this country even more. Right now, all that can be done is to hope for the best and plan for the worst.
Graphic: Isabella Harelick