Will You Shut Up, Man? by Eve Brown-Ryder

The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden took place Tuesday night and it was unlike any other. These two presidential candidates turned a supposed respectful discussion of issues into what many are calling a dumpster fire. This momentous event was held at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where Fox News anchor, Chris Wallace acted as moderator.

Wallace started the night off by explaining how the debate was to be structured. The intention was to have six topics of roughly fifteen minutes apiece. Each candidate was to give a two-minute answer to the initial question within each topic and use the rest of the time blocks going back and forth. Wallace selected the topics and questions and neither candidate knew what he selected prior to the debate. 

Part of the reason this debate was so special was that it made absolutely no sense. The candidates spent the whole night speaking over each other, avoiding questions, and insulting each other. The moderator was consistently interrupted and ignored. It was also common for the men to scoff, laugh, and shake their heads at the others’ comments.

The first topic was the Supreme Court. Trump argued in favor of Amy Coney Barret replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Biden explained how the purpose of Obamacare is not to wipe out private insurance, but rather to provide it to those in need. Almost right out of the gate the candidates had a catfight where Biden called Trump a liar and a clown. Trump retorted by saying Biden graduated last in his class. That was also where the title of this article came from. It was a remark from Biden when Trump would not stop speaking over him. 

The second topic had to do with COVID-19. Wallace had to preface the discussion by asking the candidates to behave while discussing the global pandemic. Trump shared his belief that Republicans and Democrats alike think he did a terrific job dealing with the virus. Biden expressed that he believes the predictions of scientists whose jobs do not rely on Trump. Biden recalled Trump’s advice to inject bleach to combat COVID-19 and Trump once again accused Biden of graduating last in his class. He also made fun of Biden for wearing a mask too often. 

Topic number three was supposed to be the economy. However, both candidates spun it to continue discussing COVID-19. Trump started off by saying he is improving the economy while Democrats want to shut it down and ruin America. He also referred to the pandemic as the “China plague,” which is a term that many people find very offensive. Biden dodged Wallace’s question about whether he will create new taxes but rather said that he plans to create more American jobs. Biden called Trump the worst president America has ever had. This segment was the first time during the night that Trump brought family into it by raising suspicions about Biden’s son. Biden called Trump a clown for the second time.  

It was at this point in the night, between segments three and four, that Wallace had to silence both candidates and reiterate the rules. He expressed that while the candidates could talk about whatever they wanted, the American people would be better served if they could stop speaking over each other. He also told Trump that Biden was behaving better before moving onto topic four: racial unrest. Trump was quick to shift the conversation to how much law enforcement supports him and how devoted he is to law and order. Biden expressed his support for peaceful protest. He also called Trump a racist for disapproving of racial sensitivity training. Trump was put on the spot and asked to condemn white supremacists but instead told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Trump and Biden got into a spat about ANTIFA, which stands for anti-fascist, and Wallace had to cut them off in order to introduce the next segment. Topic number five was the candidates’ records. Trump and Biden were supposed to explain why they should be elected over their opponent, but both men were too busy arguing to give any concrete answers. Biden’s son was brought into the conversation for the second time that night.

The sixth topic, climate change, was then finally introduced. Trump started off with his agenda to clean up the forests and improve forest management in an effort to combat fires, specifically those in California. Biden shared his ideas for increasing the use of renewable resources and segued into how it will create more jobs. The conversation then got sloppier because Biden would not stop repeating “not true” in response to everything Trump said. 

There was a discrepancy at this point in the program because Wallace introduced the sixth topic as election integrity even though it was actually the seventh topic according to the headings the segments were given at the bottom of the screen. Regardless, the candidates began discussing how they will reassure the American people of election accuracy. Trump called mail-in voting a disaster. He said the election will be fraudulent like people have never seen. Biden simply encouraged people to vote and look into voting by mail. After both men said their piece they got into another bout of speaking over each other and would not surrender to the moderator. Wallace tried asking each candidate a final question and expressed his desire for order in the answers. Unfortunately, that is not what he got, and when he tried declaring the debate over Trump kept talking. 

After Trump quieted down Wallace said his closing remarks and Melania Trump and Jill Biden came on stage to stand with their husbands. Only one of those women, Jill Biden, was wearing a mask, however. Party affiliation aside, this was very easily the worst debate in the history of presidential debates. These were two fully grown men who could not conduct themselves in a professional manner on national television. There was no winner that night.

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