Presidential debate a mess, vice-presidential debate a success

Hannah Dotzler, Copy Editor

Within the past few weeks, we have seen two of the most important events of the presidential election, with the first presidential debate of 2020 on Sept. 29 and the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 7. These debates, although centered around similar topicscould not have been more different. 

The presidential debate, to put it lightly, was a disaster. Sources such as CNN and The Washington Post even called it “chaotic.” In fact, CNN’s Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper described it as “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” and said that it was the worst debate that he had ever seen.  

The debate was so horrendous for several reasons, with one of the biggest being President Donald Trump’s failure to follow the rules, which he had agreed to prior to the event. These rules included not interrupting the other candidate and only talking in your allotted amount of time. However, the whole debate was basically just Trump interrupting and trying to talk over former Vice President Joe Biden. It was so bad that viewers could not even make out much of what the candidates were trying to say, which completely defeats the whole purpose of having a debate in the first place. The moderator of the debate had to interrupt and raise his voice several times to get Trump to stop speaking, saying things such as, “Gentlemen, you realize that you’re both speaking at the same time?” It was obvious that Biden was getting fed up with Trump’s rudeness throughout the entire debate, and even told him to “shut up” multiple times.  

Another reason the first presidential debate went so badly was due to Trump’s indecency and lack of empathy. One of the worst parts of the event was when Trump failed to condemn white supremacy. When the moderator asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacist groups such as the “Proud Boys,” Trump’s response to them was to “stand back and stand by.” And, after making this declaration, he quickly tried to move off the topic of race. One of the worst things Trump could have done during this debate was show lack of empathy for the black community amid this time of suffering. But he did it anyway. 

And that was not the only disgraceful thing Trump did at the debate. While Biden was tributing his son Beau, who served in the army, Trump was quick to cut him off and bring up Biden’s other son Hunter, who struggled with drug addiction. It was rude, disrespectful, and just downright uncalledfor to drag Biden’s son into the debate in that manner. The topic they were discussing had nothing to do with Biden’s other son, and frankly, Trump’s comments just helped support that he does not care about veterans, and he is just not a decent person – not the type of person who should be the leader of our country. 

The last thing Trump did that was just plain unacceptable was give false information on mail-in voting to the American people. He called it “dangerous” and basically tried to say that people should not participate in it. However, one of Biden’s strongest moments was at the end of the debate, where he said just the opposite. He encouraged people to vote, in whichever way works best for them.  

There is no way someone undecided who was watching the debate got any solid ideas on who to vote for. I guess the most you could take away from it is that one of the candidates is racist and disrespectful, and the other one isn’t. Take your pick.  

The vice-presidential debate, on the other hand, was much more of an average debate – much more civilized – than the presidential debate. Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris were more respectful of one another and were more effective at getting their messages across than Trump and Biden were. Although, their debate, too, had its problems.  

First off, Pence said quite a bit of hypocritical things throughout the debate – things he really had no position to say in the first place. For example, Pence at one point told Harris to “stop playing politics with people’s lives.” Um, have you seen the way the Trump administration has handled COVID-19? Over 200,000 Americans have died from the virus, far more than in any other country. And Pence himself is the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. If anyone is “playing politics with people’s lives,” it’s him.  

Another disappointing part of the debate was the number of questions that the candidates refused to answer. Although both Harris and Pence were guilty of this, Pence refused to answer many more questions than Harris did. In fact, he even often used time for a new question to continue discussing a previous one, which was just annoying.  

 On a more positive note, however, Harris did an amazing job and made history at the debate, as she is the first woman of color to be the vice presential running mate on a major party ticket. It is much harder and more criticized to be involved in things such as the vice-presidential debate when you are a woman of color, due to the racism and sexism that still very much exist in this country. If you’re stern or confident, people may label you as “bossy,” but if you’re shy or friendly, people may say you are “too emotional” – especially when the person you’re debating is a white man. However, Harris handled the debate like a champ and proved herself to be more than qualified to be vice president. Even when Pence interrupted her, she would firmly say things such as “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.” 

In fact, between all four politicians in both debates, Harris was the clear winner. She got her points across the most confidently and effectively, was respectful and did not interrupt anyone, called people out when they were not giving her the same respect that she gave them, and told the most factual information. These sound like great qualities for a leader of our country. Maybe it’s time we elect a female president for a change… 

No matter what you thought of the two debates or who you viewed as the winner, one thing is clear – everyone must vote for what they believe in! To quote Biden’s closing statement at the end of the presidential debate, “Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote.”