Takeaways from the First Presidential Debate

Everyone can agree that 2020 has been an awful year.

Global pandemic? Check. Celebrity deaths? Check. Fires? Check. Murder hornets? Check. But before this year even started, we knew it was going to be a big one. This year is the 2020 presidential election, and recently, the running candidates have just stated their case.

The first debate took place on Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. PST. The whole ordeal was almost a jumble of words, name-calling and insults that the moderator, Chris Wallace, struggled to keep under control as he bombarded the candidates with questions.

Joe Biden repeatedly called Donald Trump the “worst president America has ever had” and a clown. But among Biden’s slight bickering came Trump’s more personal and rude insults, most of which regarded Biden’s children, including his deceased son.

Section 1: Senate

For the first subject, Wallace led with questions about the Senate, reminding the audience of Trump’s attempts to nominate Amy Coney Barrett as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor to the Supreme Court. Biden stated multiple times that the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett was an “abuse of power” and that the American people should have the chance to choose who takes Ginsberg’s place. Trump, on the other hand, restated that he won the election and therefore has the right to choose the next Justice and argues that Barrett is the “best of the best.”

Section 2: Covid-19 and Re-opening the Economy

The idea of the people sharing their voice is consistent in Biden’s arguments and reappeared in another important topic, Covid-19, when Biden states that it should be the people’s decision whether to reopen the economy.

Trump constantly stated throughout the section that opening the economy is “what the people want.” He said that parents and teachers want schools to open so that parents don’t have to worry about their children at home and so that teachers can make a living. He said that small businesses want the economy to open so that they can stay afloat. Whereas, Biden believes opening the economy is a terrible idea.

“Two hundred thousand dead. As you said, over seven million infected in the United States. We, in fact, have 4% of the world’s population and 20% of the deaths. 40,000 people a day are contracting covid. In addition to that, between 750 and 1000 people a day are dying. When [Trump] was presented with that number, he said, ‘it is what it is.’” Biden continued to explain the Trump Administration’s lack of a plan and how they basically let those 200,000 people die when they knew about the threat of Covid since January.

In response, Trump attempted to place blame on China as well as claim that other countries, such as Russia and India, do not give accurate numbers on their death counts from Covid. Trump also mentioned that he closed the country early and because of this, Trump said that Dr. Fauci and democratic governors said that, “‘President Trump saved thousands of lives’” and “‘President Trump did a phenomenal job.’” Trump also briefly mentioned the near public release of a Covid vaccine, although many people, including Kamala Harris, Biden’s vice president, have only decided to take it once it is approved by a certified doctor, not when the president tells them to.

Among questions about Covid, Wallace brought up the lingering question of Trump’s tax returns. But, since the discovery of Trump’s secret Chinese bank account, many people have been questioned if he pays taxes to the government at all. To this rumor, Trump told Wallace that he does pay his taxes. He told us that he pays millions of dollars in taxes each year, specifically saying that he “paid $38 million one year [and] paid $27 million one year.” But this did not clear anything up, because Trump is still refusing to make his tax returns public to prove his claim despite saying that “[we’ll] see as soon as it’s finished.”

Section 3: Racism and Racial Equality

In the third section, Wallace led with a question about racial equality and how each candidate wants to handle the issue. Trump claimed that he has done more for these Black communities than any other president, not including President Abraham Lincoln. Biden then led with his own argument. “It’s about equity and equality. It’s about decency. It’s about the constitution. And we have never walked away from trying to require equity for everyone, equality for the whole of America. But we’ve never accomplished it, but we’ve never walked away from it like [Trump] has done,” Biden said. “…when Floyd was killed, when Mr. Floyd was killed, there was a peaceful protest in front of the White House. What did [Trump] do? He came out of his bunker, had the military use tear gas on them…This man is as a savior of African-Americans? This man cares at all? This man’s done virtually nothing. Look, the fact is that you have to look at what he talks about. You have to look at what he did. And what he did has been disastrous for the African-American community.”

And, when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement, Biden agreed that the violence of officers towards the Black community should result in persecution for said officers, but disagreed that defending the police was the right thing to do.

Later in the debate, Trump even addressed the Proud Boys, a group of “white supremacists and right-wing militia”, directly, telling them to “stand back and stand by.”

Section 4: Climate Change

I’ll keep this section short because, in all honesty, we have heard most of the words exchanged before. Wallace put forth questions, asking about thoughts on climate science and climate change, as well as questioning some of Trump’s decisions that went against his thoughts during the debate.

When asked if Trump thought climate change was real and believed in climate science, he didn’t hesitate to say yes, but many question his answer based on his decision to cut the Obama Clean Power Plan because “it was driving energy prices through the sky.” While that is an understandable reason, why would Trump cut a plan that helped what he believed was harming the world? Could he have cut it just because it was created by Obama?

Section 5: Why Should Voters Vote for You

This was the big one. This was the question that would determine the candidate’s final say in why they are the best person for the job. The actual question is quite oddly placed in the debate script but we’re going to ignore that and act as if this is the grand finale!

“Looking at both of your records, I’m going to ask each of you. Why should voters elect you president over your opponent in this segment?”

Most of Trump’s two minutes were filled with him rambling on about his great accomplishments. “There has never been an administration or president that has done more than I have done in the period of three and a half years,” Trump stated. Besides that overall statement, he spoke a lot about how he rebuilt the military and refilled judge spots because “President Obama and [Biden] left me 128 judges to fill.”

And, during Biden’s two minutes of time, Trump continuously interrupted his speech flow while Biden spoke about some things Trump did wrong as well as where it got us. He also referred to Trump, in that section, as “Putin’s puppy.” But just when we thought both candidates could have two minutes of talk time without interruption, Trump tried to bring Biden down by bringing up what Biden claimed are falsehoods about his son.

You could tell this little interlude was really uncalled for when Trump just blurted out falsehoods about Biden’s son getting thrown out of the military and cheating his way into making a fortune. He really took ad hominem to the next level.

Despite the bickering we saw throughout the session, we learned a lot about the two candidate’s ideas that helped voters choose who they wanted to take office. I’m sure everyone reading this is reading this after President Biden has been elected, mostly because I am writing this after Biden was declared president. So congratulations to Biden and Harris, who happens to be the first Black and South Asian woman who has held the position of vice president. I can only hope we have a great four years to come.

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