Eaglecrest’s View of the 2020 Presidential Debate

After months of campaigning and political rallies all across the United States, the two major presidential candidates went head to head in the first Presidential Debate on September 29, which was hosted at the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion in Cleveland, Ohio. During the debate, crucial topics such as the nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice, racism and Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, the economy and climate change were discussed. The event was moderated by Chris Wallace, host of the talk show Fox News Sunday, and the son of journalist Mike Wallace, founder and original host of 60 Minutes on CBS.

The 2020 First Presidential Debate in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of USA Today.

This is not the only debate that will be occurring this year. There will be two more presidential debates on October 15th and October 22nd, located in Miami, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee. There will also be one for the Vice Presidential Candidates on October 7th at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Overall, this first debate was considered by many to be chaotic and disorderly. It sparked much controversy across the nation –and even the world– as well as in our very own community. Eaglecrest students who watched the debate were asked one question: “If you were the moderator of the Presidential Debate, what would you have done differently?”

Nia Asmare, a sophomore, said that as the moderator she would “Try to not be biased and try not to target one person.” 

Sources such as The Daily Wire were in agreement. On September 30th they published, “Fox News host Chris Wallace, a registered Democrat, faced intense backlash on Tuesday night for what was widely deemed as bias in the debate in the favor of Democrat Joe Biden and against Republican President Donald Trump.” 

Tsione Anteneh, another EHS sophomore, adds, “I would be more strict because they were talking over each other and it was hard to follow and they kept going off topic.” 

Photo of Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday and the moderator of the First Presidential Debate on September 29. Image Courtesy of NBC News.

The moderator and much of the audience became very frustrated with the candidates constantly talking over each other. This observation was communicated repeatedly in opinions across the country as it was in the Eaglecrest community. For example, in a story published in the New York Times, author Shane Goldmacher stated, “Shouting, interruptions and often incoherent cross talk filled the air as Mr. Trump purposefully and repeatedly heckled and blurted over his rival and the moderator alike in a 90-minute melee that showcased the president’s sense of urgency to upend a race in which polls show him trailing.

The poorly conducted “debate” was more of an argument, and deviated from the classic style and structure of debate we have typically seen in past years’ presidential debates. Due to this, the conversation often drifted from the original questions and topics proposed by Wallace at the beginning of each round of the debate. 

EHS sophomore Maya Walters says, “I would’ve made it so they were focusing more on the questions and not on winning.” 

The purpose of presidential debates is to inform the public on each major candidate’s stance on specific issues that are significant to the election. But, this debate was more of an intense interaction between President Trump and former Vice President Biden. Their position on many of the issues discussed was unclear in many cases, making it harder for unsure voters to choose a side.

“They seemed to have been arguing and were at each other’s throats a lot,” said Jack Converse, a junior. “If they had made their arguments more clear, it definitely could have gone a lot smoother.” The lack of structure provided by the moderator made it difficult for viewers to gather information on each of the candidates viewpoints to form or reinforce their opinions.

Security guard Eric Oglesby commented, “I would start by shutting [Trump’s] mic off and taking that screen time away. And then say ‘Look, keep it up, and I’m gonna shut your mic off, every time you do it, we’ll focus on [Biden]. We need to hear what he has to say.’” Oglesby also suggested that if he was in Wallace’s position, he would make each candidate’s time to speak more equal, and hold them accountable for the rules and times that each party agreed to. 

Chibuike Idik, a junior, also agrees that “Donald Trump wasn’t even letting Joe Biden speak.”

The September 30th Presidential Debate has been a spectacle for conversation both within Eaglecrest and throughout the United States. This is only the first of three different debates that will occur during October, and as we enter into the final days leading up to the Presidential Election on November 3, the future presidency is unknown.