UMass community reacts to the first presidential debate

The fiery and chaotic debate left some students at UMass feeling confused and embarrassed


The first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was anything but normal.

What was strange was that no opening or closing remarks were made, moderator Chris Wallace immediately jumped into questions. Right out of the gate, Donald Trump used a debate technique called the “Gish Gallop,” which is when someone overwhelms their opponent with so many arguments that the opponent gets confused or flustered, with no regard for accuracy. 

But this was taken to the next level. We know President Trump does this, especially with his claims that Joe Biden is not mentally fit for the job. But it got so bad and the arguing was so frequent that no points really came across well.

“There was no substance. The entire debate Trump argued over Biden and prevented any genuine discourse from taking place. A waste of time,” Sean Bhambhani, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said.

Professor Dean E. Robinson, who teaches political science at UMass compared the debate to WWE.“I’ve watched many debates before, this one struck me as more like a professional wrestling match than a debate.

Sadly this was due to our president. While it is true that Biden would argue over Trump, even moderator Chris Wallace had to call the president out for being the main cause. After all the fighting a few highlights came out of this, or you could say lowlights. They can be found here

Probably the most viral moment of it all was President Trump’s comment about white supremacy. When Chris Wallace asked Trump to condemn white supremacy he said, “Sure I’m willing to do that but, everything I see is from the left-wing not from the right-wing.” Joe Biden brought up the specific group Proud Boys. Trump responded with “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

Freshman Katie Jordan explains how this has affected her dearly. I’ve been in the ‘settle for Biden ‘ category since Bernie was out of the running, but after seeing the debate I’m terrified for what will happen if Trump is re-elected. I’m Jewish so hearing him refuse to condemn white supremacists and tell the Proud Boys to ‘stand by’ is so scary. So for me, if Trump gets re-elected, I’m going to start applying to transfer to colleges outside of the country—because even though I love UMass Amherst and the teachers and classes I’ve taken so far, another 4 years under Trump scares me too much for the safety/rights of myself and people like me to be comfortable staying in the United States.”

This debate didn’t change how people would perceive the candidates. Anyone on the fence might not be convinced by this debate because there was no substance. People have already made up their minds and are voting in some states already. 

Miles Bowker, a freshman, had this to say, “I had not 100% made up my mind on who to vote for prior to the debate, … it’s more likely to be libertarian party candidate Jo Jorgensen than either Trump or Biden. This debate really only proved what I thought about both candidates: that they weren’t good.”

So was there a winner from this mess? No one seems to agree on this one.

“I would say Trump won the debate in terms of facts and actually talking but Biden may have won simply by not talking. However, Biden refused to answer key questions and contradicted himself a few times,” said Kyle Schriever, a sophomore. 

Certainly, the American people seem to be the ones who have lost. 

This debate shouldn’t even be considered one. As CNN reporter Jake Tapper said, “This was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.” It was so chaotic that the Commission on Presidential Debates said that they are in the midst of changing the format of the debates so they can have a “more orderly discussion.”

The next format will reportedly be the style of the town hall debate and will air on Oct. 15.

Email Ethan at [email protected]

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