The First Presidential Debate

Lauren James
Lauren James

What an embarrassment. Two grown men stood in front of the world on Tuesday evening, a month before election day, and hurled verbal attacks at each other. For 90 minutes, I listened in shock as The President of The United States mocked Vice President Biden for wearing a mask, for Biden’s child’s struggle with drug abuse and mental illness. I painfully observed as former Vice President Biden attempted to control himself, but sometimes failed, calling our president a clown, a fool, and asking him to “shut up, man”. As Americans, one nation, we should be ashamed of what went on this past Tuesday. Nevertheless, it happened, and I appreciate my teachers for not being ignorant of the outside world during class the following day. I started the day with a math class and as soon as I entered the 3rd-floor classroom, slightly out of breath from the walk, the sounds of inter-party discussion, rather than algebra, rushed past my ears. A mix of political views, genders, and races discussing the previous night’s events, everyone agreeing that the debate was a mess. As a particularly politically active individual, I weighed in, adding my appall at the President’s refusal to denounce white supremacist groups.

As not only a womanbuta black one at that, the President’s remarks, or lack thereof, were truly terrifying. According to Joel Shannon, a USA Today reporter, “When presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he was willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and urge them to stand down from adding to violence and social upheaval, Trump asked Wallace to name a specific group. Democratic rival Joe Biden interrupted to cite the Proud Boys.” Trump then responded, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by”. Amy Cooter, a Vanderbilt University senior lecturer, says that “The Proud Boys have had a yearslong reputation for not only violence but very clear ties to white supremacy”. She goes on to say that the group is “more to the right than most constitutional militias” and “more prone to physical violence”. The President of the United States told a hate group to stand at the ready for his call. The dearth of condemnation should frighten all of us. He praises violence, therefore he glorifies the division of America.

As a student at a mostly white, private school I sometimes feel separate from my peers. We all live in the same country, state, and attend the same school, yet somehow our experiences will always be different from each other. Yet, because of the lines of communication that are beginning to open, I feel as connected and supported as ever. Within a divisive and separated world, my math class feels safe, and while my peers don’t walk the world in my shoes, and I don’t in theirs, we have created a community. As I end my piece for this week I’ll leave you with something my algebra teacher said on the first day of school: “We’re all going through the same storm, we are just in different boats”. As we head towards the election in November we must remember that what our country desperately needs right now is community.


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