The first presidential debate: tough to get a word in edgewise

Paul Navis

The first presidential debate was like watching two hurricanes collide: loud and incoherent. Much of the debate resulted in the candidates and the moderator Chris W

picture of Mike Pence and Kamala Harris
Picture of Kamala Harris and Mike Pence debating (Sourced from CNN)

allace speaking over each other. There may not have been a clear winner to the debate, but America was definitely the loser. But, if people look beyond the storm they will find some important opinion on policy from the two candidates.

One major topic of the debate was the underlying pandemic. COVID-19 has been a disease unlike any other in recent history in the United States and what the two candidates pledged to do about it is likely to have a large impact on voters. President Trump’s response to it has been highly criticized by many for loosening coronavirus restrictions too early. This was intensified by his recent Covid diagnosis threatening to upend the election. 

Joe Biden was quick to capitalize on the President’s handling of COVID stating “he knew all the way back in February how serious this crisis was. He knew it was a deadly disease. What did he do? He is on tape acknowledging he knew it. He didn’t tell us or warn of it because he didn’t want to panic the American people. You don’t panic. He panicked.” 

Trump felt differently on the issue. Trump argued that Biden could not do the kind of job he did saying “you didn’t think we should have closed our country cause you thought it was too terrible. You wouldn’t have closed it for another two months.” He argued that he took brave steps and even quoted Dr. Fauci saying he saved thousands of lives. While we can’t know if Biden could do this or not, people agree that the closing of the country did help slow the spread of COVID-19

Another divisive issue hanging over the debate was the Supreme Court. With the death of liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an empty Supreme Court seat this close to an election year has both parties up in arms. The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett would give the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative lead. While Biden admitted to having no problem with the nominee herself, he argued that the people have a right to a voice stating “The American people have a right as to who the Supreme Court nominee is and that say occurs when they vote for a United States senator and when they vote for the president of the United States. They are not going to get that chance now because we’re in the middle of an election year already.” 

Trump, however, feels he does have the right to pick his Supreme Court nominee this late. He stated “a president is elected for 4 years not 3 years. I’m not elected for 3 years.” Democrats have threatened to end the filibuster or pack the supreme court if they lose the supreme court nomination. Whether or not these policies are able to be passed under U.S. law or even if they should has yet to be decided by our nation but Biden himself has refused to answer if he will support it or not stating “I’m not gonna answer the question cause the question is.” At this point, the two candidates talked over each other until the moderator called to move on. The filibuster would make it so that in the senate you would only need 51 votes instead of 60. With democrats expected to turn multiple senate seats in the next election, many republican voters worry about the consequences of such an action

Overall the debate was considered as a trainwreck. While there are always undecideds, some people do seem to already have their minds made up so the debate did not impact their view. Joe Biden supporter Julien “JD” Nygard stated, “I kinda like what he’s doing right now, I think he’s doing perfect.” With the number of undecideds decreasing, it seems Trump supporters feel the same. It seems that not much was likely changed in this debate and people have their minds made up.