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Boston, US
Posts: 205

No matter what your political views are, I think it's fair to say that that debate was .... unprecedented. Televised presidential debates began in the United States with the presidential race of 1960, between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was clearly prepared for the medium of television; Nixon, it is widely thought, was not. If you have ever been to Boston's John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, there's an entire section about the debates, how they were perceived by the American public, and how they affected the election outcome.

Fast forward 60 years. Wow.

People around the world have been looking at the United States and seem to wonder: what is happening in this country? This article, by Hannah Bosch, titled "‘I Feel Sorry for Americans’: A Baffled World Watches the US," was published by the New York Times several days before the debate happened.

Boston Latin School students: We are being joined, for the first of several occasions this year, by history and politics students of my colleague Mr. Markus Schirmer, from the Reuchlin-Gymnasium in Ingolstadt, Germany. Welcome Ingolstadt students! We look forward to hearing your perspectives on the looming election in our country and the debate that took place last evening.

Boston students: please welcome the Ingolstadt students and engage with their perspectives!

Here is your opportunity to weigh in with your impressions of the debate. Here are some questions to think about as you write:

  • What moments stood out to you?
  • What did you learn from either President Trump or former Vice President Biden about their plans for the nation?
  • What did you learn about the character of each person? Is character relevant to leadership?
  • How do you think this first debate will affect the election and what will follow November 3 (election day)?

If for some reason, you want to watch the debate again, click here for a link to the streamed version. And for highlights of the debate, take a look either at this from the BBC or this from Politico.

Ingolstadt, Bavaria, DE
Posts: 4

First hello from Germany

First of all, I want to thank Ms. Freeman for reaching out to us and for giving us this very special opportunity to be part of this global project on civic obligations. Currently, there are 18 students of about your age from my English course at Reuchlin-Gymnasium participating in the project. Other colleagues are teaching them in History or Social Studies/Government courses in preparation of their graduation exams next spring. Their English oral exams will also cover the topics “The individual and society” as well as the American political system. At some later point they will be happy to talk about the current political situation in Germany.

We are excited to get to know you and your (political) views during the current US election campaign and are ready to share our thoughts from the distance.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

First Presidential Debate

I was not particularly surprised that the debate devolved quite quickly because thats more or less what i expected from both candidates but i was surprised at how bad it got to the point where even the moderator Chris Wallace was becoming visibly annoyed. The moment that stood out to me was when Trump was insulting Biden's son and Biden responded "my son is not a loser". Trump also yet again refused to say he disavowed white supremacists which was disappointing but not surprising. I did like that Trump seemed to walk back some of his previous stances about climate change and also proposed somewhat good ideas to plant a billion trees and set up some sort of forest management commission to prevent wildfires. Both their characters came into question as they constantly interrupted up each other and Chris Wallace but Trump definitely came off worse because he barely let Biden even get a word in even in his allotted time. I think this debate will not have any significant affect on the election because neither of them had a particularly good performance or presented any new ideas and it seems like almost all voters hate either one candidate and will choose other or hate them both and wont vote.

Boston, US
Posts: 205

How the world perceives the debate

Welcome, Mr. Schirmer and your students!

I just wanted to add one more incredible article that surveys how the world is perceiving this debate the morning after. I've linked it here

It is very sobering.

I am eager to read what you all have to say about this!

Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Attempting to Process the Debate

As Tuesday night’s debate winded down, like many others, I came away feeling shell-shocked and at a loss for words. The 90 minute affair had been taxing to watch, and hard to process, seemingly twisting and turning every few seconds with a new rebuttal from President Trump or former Vice President Biden. However, as the dust cleared, I came away with several robust conclusions about not only the debate, but how the candidates will proceed in the later stages of the presidential race.

First, I believe that regardless of how the proceedings carried on, Mr. Biden gained the upper hand in last night’s debate. President Trump has been trailing heavily in election forecasts; Mr. Biden has been dominating throughout the country, according to the interactive map on, with the most alarming part for Republicans being that former red states in the 2016 election (such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania) have recently been leaning towards blue. These states located close to the Midwest are crucial for Trump if he hopes to repeat a victory, and the recent forecasts have been alarming. However, this isn’t to say that President Trump has no shot at winning the election; as many clearly remember, in 2016 it was predicted that Hillary Clinton would win for months on end, yet on the night of the election, Donald Trump managed to sway several states last second. Also, while he has some ground to make up, there are still many neutral states hanging in balance, and a strong performance in the upcoming debates would certainly allow Mr. Trump to climb back into the race. But, this brings me back to my main point, which is that regardless of how many times he spoke Wednesday night, President Trump lost the debate handily to candidate Biden. As the debate commenced, it was clear that Trump’s focus was upon pressuring and attacking his opponent, and not on gaining the advantage by means of proposed solutions and policies. Mr. Biden however, made it very clear that his aim was not to levy any accusations against Trump (for the most part), but rather to play it safe and answer the moderator’s questions. This strategy, in my opinion, makes perfect sense for the former VP. Coming into this debate, leading as much as he is, Mr. Biden has no need to aggressively attack his foe in hopes of making up ground. By solidly answering questions throughout the night, albeit with a few interruptions which I will talk about soon, Mr. Biden made it clear that he is the choice for those who are still struggling between who to choose. As for the transparency of the two candidates’ strategies, look no further than where they set their eyes. As he answered questions, Mr. Biden looked either directly into the camera or at moderator Chris Wallace, opting to rarely glance over at the President. Mr. Trump however, almost never looked at the camera and stared intently at Biden, signaling his hostility not only with his posturing but with his frequent interruptions and personal attacks; and while his brutal comments may have delighted avid Trump supporters, in my mind there is no doubt that Mr. Biden came away with the upper hand last night.

In addition, it was extremely interesting as well as insightful to listen to how Trump and Biden answered the moderator’s questions, in the select moments during which they were not bickering. A few examples of topics covered include the Supreme Court, in which Trump avidly defended Amy Coney by referring to her noteworthy alma mater Notre Dame while Biden rejects this, the COVID-19 response, in which Biden accuses Trump of severe mishandling of the pandemic while Trump counters by referring to Biden’s alleged “poor response” to the Swine flu and H1N1 virus outbreaks while he was Vice President, the American economy, during which Trump flusters Biden by accusing him of using false statistics about the U.S. recovery post 2008 crisis, and climate change, during which Trump claims “scientists don’t know” what they’re talking about and that poor forest management was to blame for the uptick in wildfires along the west coast. As for what I took away from the many issues they covered, I believe that a lot more can be gained from Mr. Biden’s answers rather than Mr. Trumps. This makes sense, as the President currently in office has enacted many of the things already which he believes are needed in our country, while his opponent clearly has a lot more that he desires to change. One of the observations I made in my notes while watching was that Biden seemed to be attempting to appeal to moderates and less-radical Democrats. This was apparent as he was speaking on the issues of police brutality, in which he did not propose the common mantra of defunding the police, but rather putting more money into the policing system in order to potentially provide psychiatrists and therapists to accompany the squadrons and units. He even adds that while there are “bad apples” among the police force, most of the population throughout America remains good people. While this may have been inadvertent, Biden’s choice terminology and wording throughout this issue points to a possible goal of straying away from the radical left. He may have been attempting to sway centrists, moderates, and those who are still struggling to make a choice between him and Donald Trump. Purposeful or not, in my opinion this was a slight win for Biden’s corner; he made a point which Democratic voters would not oppose, yet appealed to indecisive voters at the same time. I have no such analysis for President Trump; he proposed very little new information throughout the debate, and continued to preach the same ideals which he has been for a long time. Additional issues they spoke on include the impact of Trump’s presidency on the black community, during which Mr. Biden claims his immense support of the African American population while the President refers to his approval rating from that group (which was 15% - 24% upon further research), and the shrinking middle class, during which Biden levied his position of growing up in a suburb to show his connection to that American class.

Finally, I believe that it’s important to reference the most disturbing part of the presidential debate, which was the conduct of both candidates, but most notably, that of the President. Like @BLStudent stated, moderator Chris Wallace could barely get a word in between the insults of Donald Trump and the rebuttals by Joe Biden; he was becoming increasingly frustrated as each candidate spoke out of turn and openly went against the policies of the debate which were agreed upon by the representatives of the party. The most intense moment of the night came when Donald Trump viciously insulted Joe Biden’s son, referring to him as a drug addict who was dishonorably discharged from the military. While I have no reference on who Mr. Biden’s son was, I thoroughly believe that referring to the family of your opposing candidate is severe misconduct, and immensely irrelevant to the point being made, regardless of topic. The fact is that the current President of the United States behaved extremely immaturely last night, lashing out petty insults and interrupting every second Joe Biden opened his mouth; and while Mr. Biden was slightly more civil, he too left much to be desired in his conduct throughout the night. This leads me to my final issue: where is the line for Donald Trump? This rhetorical question draws a plethora of answers, and I always believed that I would keep the character and policies of a presidential candidate separate from one another. It was my belief that it didn’t matter what you did as a person, as long as you were doing a good job running our country. President Trump has made me question my notion; his behavior, not only last night, but over the past four years has made America’s leader a laughingstock in comparison to those of other countries. His history of disgusting misconduct and horrific statements goes back longer than I’ve been alive. So I ask myself, and everybody else who used to share my viewpoint, can you endure this anymore? I think I have my answer.

The upcoming debates will be a spectacle to watch, regardless of whether they improve in quality or deteriorate further into insanity. The date of November 3rd looms prominently as the inevitable day comes for America to choose their leader for the next 4 years. It’s nerve-wracking to consider how different America might be in 2024, depending on which candidate wins the race, but at least for the time being, the best we can do is to just keep watching.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

First Presidential Debate

Throughout the whole debate a few things stood out to me. For one, Trump didn’t want to answer most of the questions directly. For the first 3 questions, Trump was very childish by arguing with the moderator and interrupting Joe Bidden. I think he deliberately did this as he knew that he was unable to answer the questions in a way that would be satisfactory to the general public and him interrupting Biden lessened Biden’s time to complete his thought. Trump most definitely sided and targeted the far right an example being that he was unable to denounce the white supremacist. On the other hand Biden had strong points, but for some questions he wasn’t able to finish. On the latter amount of questions, Trump was able to move him from his position and bring him off topic. Trump was very unpolitical by attacking Biden’s late son Beau. An unsurprising tactic, but I didn’t expect him to do so on such a large stage. Along with that I was surprised how early Trump called fake news. Although I think Trump arguing with the moderator and interrupting Biden was not a good look, Biden telling Trump to shut up showed that he’s able to stand his ground and instead of playing to Trump’s strategy, he was adult enough to stay to the pre accepted conditions of 2 minutes per person.

From the debate alone, I didn’t learn anything new. They mostly referenced their plan with their own name, ie “Trump Plan” or “Biden Plan”. Biden did say he didn’t support the New Green Deal and supported the “Biden Plan”, but I think that’s only because he didn’t recognize what it was through the acronym. I did believe the moderator’s questions were tailored towards Biden, but Biden couldn’t finish and deliver a 100% powerful message. The questions were somewhat neutral, in a sense, as they pointed out Trump’s wrongdoings and gave him an opportunity to explain. Rather than doing that, Trump used it as a chance to argue about the smaller, irrelevant points. Along with that, Trump asked himself rhetorical questions which he proceeded to answer rather than the debate question.

In my opinion, character is important to leadership. Biden tweeted out that Trump has only made the country more divided and this is evident as he single handedly ruined the organization of the debate. Biden should have shown that he has been a better leader than Trump, but his mention of putting his foot down against Putin was evident for some. We already knew Trump wasn’t a good person through his countless allegations and legal cases, but Biden mentioning his $750 in taxes was a strong and witty point that pleased much of the left side.

Overall, I don’t think this debate will affect the election by much, if at all. I believe that Biden won this debate, but the media will show Trump’s action during the debate rather than the points made. Trump supporters will overlook every point made in this debate as that seems to be a consistent trait for the majority of them, but Biden’s valid points could win some undecided voters over.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Little New Information but Lots to Think About

What a night. All I can say is I look forward to seeing what SNL does with the “debate” this Saturday...

I was definitely most struck, like @BLStudent, when Trump admitted that climate change was real and caused by man. Not a moment I heard too much about by other people or news sources afterwards, but still, it was a surprising thing to hear from a president whose environmental policy has been defined by deregulation and the dismissal of climate science. Not, of course, that this signals any meaningful change in his policy or anything. I was also struck when Wallace asked Trump to condemn white supremacists— I definitely was not anticipating such a direct question, but I was very glad to hear it. I let my hopes get up when Trump said something like “ok, give me a name and I’ll say it,” but, as in times before, he failed to actually condemn them (in this instance, the group Proud Boys) and instead offered some vague statement that the Proud Boys later celebrated as tacit approval. These two standout moments are reflective of how the debate went overall, I think: plenty of notable points throughout the 90 minutes that ultimately amounted to nothing. The most memorable statements were unproductive ad hominem attacks or an occasional policy plan that only reinforced what was already known about the candidate.

Just as everyone else I’m sure, I learned exceedingly little from this debate, except maybe that Biden has a separate plan for the climate change. Trump has offered no substantive platform for reelection anyway, so there wasn’t much to be learned from him in the first place as @BlueWhale24 also established, and every time Biden attempted to discuss his policy, it quickly became drowned out by interruptions or veered off course into trading insults.

I think there’s much more to unpack when considering strategy. Trump’s strategy was clearly one of relentless attack, and to some extent it was effective. I disagree with @BlueWhale’s statement that Trump “lost the debate handily to Biden.” His aggressive tactics left an extremely low impression of his character, but going lower than long-standing norms would allow is a strength of Trump’s that, on this occasion, allowed him to override Biden and even push Biden to go as low as him, such as when Biden called Trump a “clown.” However, Biden was ultimately able to get some of his policy in as the debate progressed and even made what I would say was the highlight of the debate, which is when he stood up for the integrity of our election and spoke to the camera about how voters can register and vote, by mail or in person. @BlueWhale24 also discussed how Biden tended to keep far away from any particularly liberal policies, and I agree that this was a smart strategy. It’s almost certain that Biden can count on the progressive voting bloc for support on Election Day, even if he is far from their favorite, so it makes sense that he would focus on appealing to moderates. Aside from his attacks, Trump’s performance was mostly built on his usual emotive and inflammatory rallying cries like “Law and Order,” or otherwise on baseless, misrepresentational, and even conspiratorial claims. Evidence indicates mail voting will not lead to massive fraud. And no, Biden was never in favor of keeping our borders totally open during the pandemic.

On the question of how much character is relevant to leadership, I think Tuesday’s debate firmly demonstrated good character is essential in leadership roles. Trump’s divisive rhetoric and leadership style, for example, has (in my opinion) done serious, palpable damage to America. Of course, Trump’s character is singular, and in (for lack of a better word) "normal" elections, a candidate's character might not play as important a role.

I do not think the first debate will have any impact at all on the November election. Any voter would already be well aware of Trump’s overly aggressive tactics, and, as stated before, Biden didn’t get much in to be able to make the case for himself. Presidential debates have had an increasingly insignificant role in elections in the last decade or so anyway.

The only good thing I can think about the debates going forward is that it was recently announced there will be some changes to the format of the final two debates in light of the mess the first one was.

Boston, US
Posts: 205

Responding to some of your comments...which have been great!

@BlueWhale24: a great, insightful post. Clearly you are going to be our vote/bean counter, figuring out who will be likely to take which states

@babypluto9: so interesting to read that you think Biden saying "shut up" was evidence that he could stand his ground. Some people in the media seem to agree with you; others seem to disagree strongly.

@ernest.: I like your strategy analysis. Let me add one to the mix. I heard some analysis today that said that Trump was coached on how to frustrate/unnerve/disrupt someone who has overcome a stutter. Yelling, speaking loudly and quickly is anathema for someone who stutters/stuttered as they take just that fraction of a second longer to formulate what they are going to say --and then say it. I could easily imagine Trump latching on to that information and trying to use it strategically in the debate. Talk about a bullying strategy. Good grief.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Reflections on the debate

Watching the debate Tuesday night invoked such a whirlwind of emotions. This 90 minute affair was almost painful to watch and the events that took place were very memorable although most were sadly not surprising. One thing that stood out to me was at the very end of the debate the moderator Chris Wallace stated that he had moderated and witnessed many debates in his career and this was definitely the worst one by far. Throughout the debate Wallace was yelled at, argued against and ignored as he attempted to make sure the allotted time was filled by the correct candidate.

A main thing I noticed while watching the debate was that Trump prioritized attacking and seemingly bullying former Vice President Joe Biden over actually getting his points across and stating his future plans for the United States. I observed that during the debate, Biden focused on making eye contact with the camera to put across that he was addressing the United states and directly speaking to his audience. Trump on the other hand continued to look at Biden and direct all his criticism to him rather than the viewers who in the end will decide who wins the election. I agree with @BlueWhale24 that Biden’s approach towards the debate in which he focused on delivering answers to the moderators' questions rather than trying to drag down his opponent was a very strong tactic and awarded him in the end.

Now, going specifically into the responses to the questions asked in the debate. When COVID-19 was introduced, Biden accused Trump of handling the situation poorly and having knowledge of the virus beforehand and not acting on it. Trump then poked fun at the fact that Biden constantly had a mask on showing that he doesn't take these precautions that seriously. Trump also pointed out that Biden had in his opinion mishandled the swine flu outbreak during his time as Vice President. When Climate change was brought up Biden stated that he supported his own plan to help fix climate change and said that he did not support the New Green Deal. Then when it was Trump's turn to talk, to many's surprise he admitted that climate change was at least partially because of humans. He then went on to blame the Western forest fires on “poor forest management” and refused to believe that many of the issues in the world are an effect of climate change. I believe that one of Biden’s strongest and most powerful points was the one about voting. He discussed how voters can vote through mail as well as in person and encouraged people to cast their ballots despite Donald Trump's intimidation and scare tactics.

The behavior of both candidates during this debate were both childish and embarrassing to witness although Trumps was much worse and to a greater extent. He continually proceeded to interrupt both Biden and the moderator, not caring about the time put aside for each candidate. He then proceeded to insult Biden’s late son and call him a drug addict much to the onlookers dismay. Although Biden maintained more of a mature front, he too stepped in to interrupt Trump and speak out of turn. This major misconduct from both sides and the immense immaturity of The President of the United states was just insane to me although he has presented this way many times during his presidency. I believe that character plays a huge role in a President's success in their leadership and having a poor character can detrimentally affect the state of the people. I think that this debate will have little to no effect on the coming election due to the fact that Trump stated many things that he has said previously and that Biden didn't have many opportunities to make strong points.

Roslindale, MA, US
Posts: 16

The debate

My initial reaction to Wednesday's debate was “is this real”? I don’t typically watch presidential debates so going into this I was interested in what was going to go down. And wow, this was absolutely horrible and I wish this hadn’t been my first time watching the full length of a debate. Right from the jump it was a mess from the interrupting, to the name calling, and to the general disrespect. These two men, the president more than the vp, were behaving like children and honestly I was appalled. Not in our president I was expecting this kind of brash and frankly disgusting behavior but Biden surprised me a lot. In the beginning especially I expected Biden to be similar to how Hillary was last year, not engaging with the antics of his fellow debater. But I was so wrong!! Both men did not fail to hold back and went to places that really just should have not been mentioned in a PRESIDENTIAL debate. Not to mention they made things so personal when I believe they should have been talking about not only their so called plans for the future but ACTIONS that they are going to take for the betterment of America. Currently there is a ridiculous amount of inequality going on in America that is rooted in our foundation. These systemic inequalities now more than ever are being exposed and people, especially minorities, are really hurting and action needs to be taken. I wish either of them had addressed this issue and how they would solve it instead of being egotistical during this debate and getting extremely off topic. I believe that character is important in a president because that shows you the kind of person and president they will be and neithers character shined through in a positive light to me. Honestly it is horrible seeing two people who want to be leaders of your country acting the way that both did during this debate and I am almost happy that I can’t vote because neither deserves to have the title of president. After the debate I went to sleep pretty agitated because I want change so badly and it doesn’t seem like it is coming for quite some time. I understand that America will not be the super liberal country that I sometimes wish it could be because that is unrealistic, but I do want America to be an accepting place. A place where immigrants can come and feel safe or at home, a place where there isn’t systemic inequalities dragging so many of us down, and lastly a place where we are all accepted. America could be so much more than it is, we could truly be culturally and economically stable and rich. But it seems like my future vision of America is not at all recognized by these two presidents which makes me lose a lot of faith in the future. Although my disappointment in the debate ws immeasurable I don’t think that is how the rest of America feels. I don’t believe that this was as ground changing and disheartening for other people or that it will really change their views for the election. We have known how Trump is for a very long time, the kind of man ( I use the term loosely) he is and his views. The only thing I think this would change for people is how they see Biden because he stooped to the same level as Trump which I did not see coming. On a more optimistic note I hope that people get to voting after the debate and choose someone who doesn’t condone white supremacy so that America will be just a tiny bit less messed up.

Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

An Interesting Counterpoint

Originally posted by ernest. on September 30, 2020 20:57

I think there’s much more to unpack when considering strategy. Trump’s strategy was clearly one of relentless attack, and to some extent it was effective. I disagree with @BlueWhale’s statement that Trump “lost the debate handily to Biden.” His aggressive tactics left an extremely low impression of his character, but going lower than long-standing norms would allow is a strength of Trump’s that, on this occasion, allowed him to override Biden and even push Biden to go as low as him, such as when Biden called Trump a “clown.” However, Biden was ultimately able to get some of his policy in as the debate progressed and even made what I would say was the highlight of the debate, which is when he stood up for the integrity of our election and spoke to the camera about how voters can register and vote, by mail or in person.

This was an interesting contrast to what I previously thought. I was so shocked by the aggressive nature of Trump's behavior on Tuesday night, that I guess I didn't really consider how he dragged Biden's character down along with him. In today's class meeting, somebody mentioned in the Zoom chat that Mr. Biden "stooped" to Trump's level. This could be how some of his supporters viewed the debate, which dissolved into an incoherent mess of arguing after just a few minutes in. It was not a good look for Biden to engage with Trump, who is known to take these kinds of tactics. Overall, I still believe that Mr. Biden got the slight upper hand that night, but I certainly agree that it cannot be described as a "handily won" victory anymore.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Not Completely Surprised

After watching the first presidential debate I was in shock. Honestly that was the first time I have watched the entirety of a presidential debate, and while I was not entirely surprised at the events that took place, I chad a hard time processing it. Every day I find it harder and harder to believe that Donald Trump is the president of our country. That man holds the highest power in the United States. He is the person that is supposed to protect us, bring us closer together as a country, and care about the citizens and people of this country, and this debate just made it more clear that the only person he cares about is himself.

One of the main things I noticed about the debate was the behavior that both Biden and Trump displayed throughout it. While not completely surprising, the amount of disrespect that Trump showed to both Biden, and even the moderator, was astounding. Not only did he continuously interrupt Biden, he would not let the moderator, who he was not supposed to be debating with, even ask his questions without interruption. While there were moments when Biden “stooped” to Trump’s level, calling him a “clown” and saying things like “will you shut up”, he was respectful for much of the debate. Biden rarely interrupted Trump, while Trump could barely let Biden make a point without interruption. I noticed that the interruptions sometimes made Biden distracted, and made it harder for him to get a lot of his points across. What I also noticed a lot of, but again did not find surprising, was that Trump spent a lot of time insulting Biden or bringing up things that happened in the past, instead of talking about anything of substance. I found it particularly disgusting that when Biden was talking about how proud of his son Beau, Trump kept interrupting him asking about his son Hunter, who really had nothing to do with the topic. Biden was trying to express how proud he was of his son, saying “he was not a sucker” for being in the military, but Trump kept interrupting and bringing up Hunter and his struggles with drug addiction. Again, bringing up something that had nothing to do with the topic.

Because of this I did not learn anything new about Trump’s plans for the nation. Many of the plans he seemed to bring up were based on changing or dismantling things that are already in place, supposedly making them better. Unfortunately I did not learn much about Biden’s plans for the nation either. While Biden was better about talking about actual ideas, he did spend a lot of time talking about what Trump has done wrong, instead of what he himself will do in the future. Some important things I thought he did talk about were his plans to fight climate change and tax reforms. I found Biden’s plans to fight climate change were especially important, as the current president does not seem to understand how important this is. While Trump stated that cleaning the forests would stop the wildfires, Biden shared real plans that would help stop climate change.

I hope this proves to people who are undecided that we need a change in office, but I realize that it will probably have little to no impact on those who already supported Trump. If for some reason people did not already know, I hope that this debate shows that Trump is unfit to be the president of the United States for more than one reason. It is really hard for me to believe that people could still continue to support Trump, especially after this debate, but I realize that there are so many people who still do, which is why I hope that Biden’s message at the end of the debate, to go out and vote, resonates with people and everyone who can votes to get Trump out of office.

brighton, ma, US
Posts: 21

An Outsiders Standpoint

Going into this debate I had no idea what to expect. I never followed politics in depth till this year because of the extra leisure time from the pandemic and my family's choice of straying away from politics. Especially after signing up for this class, I knew there would be a lot of insightful and deep conversations around morals and politics so I was eager to take notes on the first ever presidential debate I watched. Needless to say, I don't think anyone anticipated the 90 minutes of bickering.

I was dumbfounded as I tried to listen to Biden's perspective and having Trump interrogate him on his reputation and personal life instead. There was a point where Trump had his two minutes to elaborate on his views on climate change where he vaguely stated that we have crystal waters and are substantial with keeping the environment and the economy happy and I remember having my notes open with my hand hovering the keyboard thinking, what notes am I trying to take? There were multiple instances where rude comments were made or nicknames were being called including Biden calling Trump Donald and Trump telling Biden to shut up which was later turned into a t-shirt for Biden's campaign. Not only were they rude to each other, nicknames such as Pocahontus were used to attack other members of politics and the mediator was put in a position where the candidates (especially Trump) felt like he had the upper hand to talk over him.

As said before, the remarks on their plans for candidacy were nothing but vague and were barely discussed through the entirety of the 90 minutes. I did not know about either of their stances on climate change, although I was not surprised to hear Trump putting the economy as an excuse to climate change. Strategically speaking, after the debate was finished, commentators converse on different strategies that Biden had used, one of them being not stooping to Trumps level and going as far to call out his personal life. It was smart for Biden to make Trump look like the bully in this situation, as he was down in the polls and was highly aggressive throughout the 90 minutes. As Biden focused on the camera, it was easier for him to relate to the audience in comparison to Trump who receptively put him down. Adding to @BlueWhales24 point, I never noticed the added hostility as Trump instead of focusing on the people, he focused on Biden and stared him down. I think that not only was this used for him to seem like he has the upper hand in the discussion to his supporters, but also to make others in the building feel intimidated by him. If he has exerted the power out of the room from both Biden and the mediator, it not only shows the ultimate power he has throughout the last four years, but how he will act throughout disagreements. Through scare tactics and offensive jokes, he is seen as relatable to be able to joke around but also at least act like he has ultimate power to do and get what he wants, which is seen by how the mediator interrupts trying to calm him down and Trump ultimately ignoring him. Trump supporters will and have said that Trumps never ending pits of passion are relevant to leadership because it shows he will not stand down from what he wants. Although in my opinion, its inexcusably hostile and unnecessary. I wouldn't say that I learned anything about Biden's characteristics because he had chosen a game plan to be the victim in order to let the blame fall on Trump, which was strategically smart but does not show his leadership as he could barely get a few words in at a time before he was interrupted. I would say that Biden did interact with Trump to retaliate all of the unnecessary things he was saying, I don't know if this was another strategy to set him apart from past running mate Clinton, although I do not see it as a feature that is considered positive, because as he stuck out for himself, he put Trump down negatively when in my opinion it was unnecessary.

I disagree with @earnest's point that this debate will not matter. This debate showed how much Trump has changed or stayed stagnant throughout the last four years in office. It also shows Biden's characteristics when in an argument. If the strategy for Biden was to not fall into Trumps rude and unnecssary comments, then it shows his power of restraint and how he carries himself. I honestly think that it is too soon to tell whether this will matter and affect the election, as this is one of three debates I see it going two ways: two more replicas of this debate where there is no control and rude comments thrown at each other, or as each debate follows, more of the topics will be relevant to what their plan is for candidacy and increasingly get more informational. If every debate after stays stagnant in this direction, I see this as a steady rate for Biden to take the lead for the election, although if things start to alter, there's no telling how different strategies play out and how it will affect the masses.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

The First Presidential Debate

Honestly I don’t even know if this debate was even a debate. A debate implies to people having a civil conversation about certain topics, and that was the complete opposite of what we saw on Tuesday night. I think the debate was full of shocking moments, but for me the one that stood out the most was when Trump could not outright condemn the “Proud Boys”. It’s shocking to me that there are people in the country who can support this man. How can you support a man who supports a racist group like that one. Not only that, but if you take the morality out of the situation, how can someone support a president that is dumb enough to do something like that in front of millions of Americans watching that already think he’s a racist. There are only two reasons he would do this, either he is a complete racist or he’s just a coward. Either way I don’t think those are two qualities our President should have.

I feel like I learned nothing about each candidate's plans for the future. The only thing that I learned is that they both like attacking each other more than trying to convince us that they should be the next President. Every time Biden would try to explain his plan Trump would attack him and prevented him from elaborating. Every time Trump had a chance to talk what came out of his mouth would usually be insults towards Biden, or him saying he has a plan but not explaining it. In fact the only thing I learned that actually pertained to the nation’s future was that we’re most likely doomed, if we are going to be led by someone who acts like a kindergartener. I think character has everything to do with what kind of leader you’re going to be, and both men did not display any traits that seem fit for a leader. Trump acted like his usual arrogant, childish self, and there were moments where Biden stooped to his level.

I truly don’t think this debate had a huge impact on getting people to move to a different side, but I think it could have a very negative impact on those people who are undecided. The people who are undecided watched the same debate we all did, so they saw the mess that it was which could discourage them from voting at all. That would be very bad because all those people who will not vote could largely impact the outcome of the election. I know that even my own family members saw that debate and decided that there was no point in voting because either way the country is doomed. That mindset is very wrong since voting for neither is a vote for Trump because that is one less vote for Biden, and if you support Trump it’s the same the other way around.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

First Presidential Debate

The debate itself left me confused half of the time due to all the interruptions, petty arguments, and sheer disorganization. In the most mature way possible, it was like watching two children having an immature argument where the person who is the loudest wins. A high school debate would be much more civil and factual. All in all, it left me embarrassed and considerably even more worried about the future of our country.

If I had to pinpoint one highlight it would President Trump’s comment on condemning white supremacy where he said, “Proud boys, stand back and stand by.” Not only was he unable to condemn white supremacy, but he essentially insinuated that he wanted white supremacists to hold back for a little while but get ready to attack. Something else that stood out to me was the fact that former Vice President Biden frequently addressed the people of the United States while staring straight into the camera. With all the chaos and uncertainness surrounding this country, a presidential candidate that empathizes and cares about the people truly appealed to me. This directly contrasts with the President who was less focused on appealing to the people of the United States, and was instead absorbed in trying to argue with Biden. Not once do I think I saw Trump look directly into the camera and try to empathize and appeal to the people of the United States.

Overall, I don't think this debate had a significant impact on the election. While I don't believe any supports of Trump or Biden decided to vote for the other side, I think that Biden appealed to some that were undecided. Watching the President blatantly disobey rules his own campaign agreed to, argue with the moderator, bring up and attack something as personal as as Biden's sons, etc. could have very well opened the eyes of those who were undecided.

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