On Tuesday, September 29 the American people witnessed a catastrophic mockery of a debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden. Common decency was traded in for blatant disrespect – not only between the two presidential candidates but also to the moderator – and a stream of interruptions and misinformation made up the devastating two-hour period.
Statistically, the debate was a disaster. President Trump interrupted Biden 57 times, while Biden interrupted Trump 29 times. Trump personally attacked Biden 12 times, one of which was an attack on Joe Biden’s son for having a drug problem. Former Vice President Biden personally attacked Donald Trump 10 times. He continued on to call Trump the “worst president the US has ever seen.”
Not only did Trump and Biden disregard basic manners, but they also both disrespected the moderator Chris Wallace. Donald argued directly with the moderator 25 times and Wallace had to ask Trump to stop talking 24 times; this intense environment led to heated arguments in front of the nation, inevitably resulting in misinformation.
When asked about climate change, Joe Biden said he did not support the Green New Deal. This is contrary to what he states on his official website. However, Biden does have Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on his climate policy panel. AOC responded in a tweet to former White House employee Kellyanne Conway, who quoted Biden’s lack of support on Twitter, by writing “Our differences are exactly why I joined Biden’s Climate Unity Task Force – so we could set aside our differences & figure out an aggressive climate plan to address the planetary crisis at our feet.”
President Trump was asked to publicly denounce white supremacy on live television during this debate. He instead told the group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” The group took this as an endorsement from President Trump and went so far as to officially add the quote to their website the following morning.
This group is a white nationalist hate group founded in 2016 by Gaven McInnes and is openly misogynistic, transphobic, Islamophobic, anti- Semitic, nationalistic, and violent. The Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs posted after the debate that he was indeed “standing by” and continued to say, “Trump basically said to go **** them up! This makes me so happy.” This is incredibly alarming to anyone that understood Trump’s inability to condemn white supremacy as an invitation to continue – which is exactly how hate groups across the country are perceiving it.
The stream of disrespect and misinformation in the first presidential debate is not a good sign as we move forward in this election year. Sources such as The New York Times and Now This Politics will continue to track lies told within these presidential debates, as the numbers for President Trump were unsettling in the first debate. They ranged anywhere from his claim that he “brought back Big Ten football” – the Big Ten president released a statement later disproving this that reads “President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations” – to starkly lying about his opponent’s plans.
In a rebuttal statement, Trump discusses Biden’s healthcare plan: “The bigger problem that you have is that you’re going to extinguish 180 million people with their private health care that they’re very happy with.” This statement is false, as Joe Biden’s plan would not eliminate private insurance but simply give Americans the option to buy a government-run plan as stated on his campaign website.
The American public was let down immensely by the first presidential debate. Both candidates behaved inappropriately; there is the hope that the next debate will be more civil and organized if only Trump and Biden can remain respectful and focused on politics rather than each other. The citizens of this nation will just have to wait and see.