• Daniel Peaden, reporter

Presidential Debate Illustrates Trump's Lack of Decorum and Decency

Note: This story includes editorial content.


The consensus was swift and near-universal - the first US Presidential debate on September 29, 2020 was an utter disaster. A shouting match at times, there were criticisms for all sides - Trump was a loud and aggressive bully, Biden didn't keep his cool in his responses, and the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, was not stern enough in enforcing the rules and maintaining order.

However, the biggest tragedy of the night was the behavior of the current President, Donald Trump. If there was any doubt beforehand, his refusal to condemn white supremacy combined with his disruptive ad-hominem attacks on everything from Biden's family to his grades in college confirmed that Donald Trump does not have the decorum, diplomacy, or even decency to be president again.

In the first few minutes, it seemed like the start of a productive debate. Both sides entered the stage, exchanged looks and greetings, and Chris Wallace plunged them right into the issue of the Supreme Court nomination for the vacant seat left by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

However, things quickly dissolved as soon as Trump contested Biden's truthful claim that over 100 million Americans have pre-existing conditions. This was followed by a slew of attacks by Trump that shifted the topic away from the question at hand to essentially whatever Trump wanted to discuss.

Trump's brazen disregard for the rules, combined with continuous blatant lies and misremembered half-truths are practically his brand at this point, but they were cranked up to eleven during this debate.

While Biden certainly called Trump names, including "clown" and telling him to "shut up," it felt defensive in comparison to Trump's mud-slinging. From disparaging Biden's son for dealing with addiction, to painting Biden as a delinquent in college, to insulting him for wearing masks during a global pandemic, Trump was not out-of-character, but surely out of line. This all begs the question: What was the worst thing Trump said that voters should focus on?

White supremacy. The ugliest part of American history and culture became a focal point when Trump refused to condemn white supremacists by name. On top of this, he gave a not-so-subtle approving nod to the Proud Boys, a far-right militia group with ties to white supremacy as classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the FBI.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said without much fanfare, appearing to be a call to action. When a President dog-whistles for a hate group of any kind, that should be on the conscience.

No matter how much Trump claims that mail-in ballots are prone to fraud and voter disenfranchisement, the fact remains that the rate of voting fraud overall in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%, according to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center of Justice. Nearly a quarter of the ballots cast in 2016 were mail-in as well, according to an article from BBC. Change in America has historically been slow, the only constant being elections every two to four years. It's always in the hands of the people, and I would urge anyone reading this that is able to vote to consider the debate a recap of Trump's character over the past three and a half years, and seriously ask if they are willing to support a bully who defends intolerance and sows doubt the legitimacy in our fundamental right to vote. Is he truly what we want to represent the character of our country in the next four years?


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