The Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey, icons of politics in America. The first presidential debate was held on Tuesday, Sept. 29. DONKEYHOTEY/FLICKR VIA CC BY-SA 2.0

Steven Keehner is a junior majoring in journalism and history.

So, that was something, wasn’t it? Contrary to what every analyst will tell you, the disastrous presidential debate from two nights ago shouldn’t come as a shocker. 

To anybody who expected a sophisticated, respectful and educational discussion between former Vice President Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump: really?

I thought this was going to be either hilarious or distressing. When you throw a reality star turned President and a career politician together, I figured it would make for good television at least. I was very wrong.


I wanted to come into this piece to discuss their policies and accountability. We couldn’t even get that out of the two (supposedly) most qualified people to lead the country.

To begin with where all of this went wrong would be difficult. I would point to the exact moment that the Trump campaign agreed to the debate format of two uninterrupted minutes for each candidate to speak. Perhaps I’m being too fair.

The actual moment this was all bound to fail was when the muting of a candidate’s microphone for rule violations went MIA for the night. I’d suggest a Zoom meeting for the next debate; that way, Biden could just mute Trump himself.

While Chris Wallace, the Fox anchor and moderator of this debate, tried his best to get something of a professional information session for the many watching at home, it was still a terrible effort. To be fair to Wallace, I would’ve walked out after about 20 minutes into whatever the hell that was.


If you couldn’t tell, the first presidential debate for the 2020 election sucked. Not because it wasn’t entertaining, but because it served as the coldest reality we could acknowledge: This is America.

This debate was crucial for many American citizens. Instead of getting meaningful discourse on the issues that affect millions of Americans, we were subject to name-calling and bullying from the two candidates.

The loser of the first presidential debate wasn’t Joe Biden or Donald Trump. It’s us.

We got the typical questions about climate change, healthcare and the economy. Plus attempts at having a meaningful discussion on COVID-19 and race. None of this went anywhere. Don’t even get me started on the segment over Trump’s taxes.

The night will be defined by its low points — where do I even begin? Maybe it could be the President hesitating to condemn white supremacy groups or Biden telling Trump to “shut up, man.


Regardless of who wins in November, it won’t change these problems. It won’t fix the coronavirus, settle racial tensions or change the systemic issues that have been plaguing this country.

Bickering over Biden’s mask size or Trump being a “clown is what you’ll see when this debate is recapped in future coverage. Not because those were the best parts, but because that’s all this was.

I would compare it to kids arguing. Yet, there’s a difference in that: School-age children aren’t put in positions of power, whose actions affect hundreds of millions of people. Picking the lesser between two evils has never been more literal than it is now.

Joe Biden didn’t look good, but he wasn’t Donald Trump. That’s his saving grace.

Like driving past a car crash, sometimes all one can do is drive slow and stare at the side of the road. Although, with what happened two nights ago, that crash isn’t next to us — it’s in front of us.

It was embarrassing and terrifying. It’s an anxiety-inducing preview of what the next five weeks are going to look like for America.


Scratch that: I meant the next four years.


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