The United States presidential election is in less than a month. This is one of the most tumultuous and irritating election seasons in decades. If we are truly honest with ourselves, I doubt any of us anticipated it being anything other than downright hostile.
This election cycle involves two extremely polarizing figures: Donald J. Trump and Joe Biden. Neither has a very honorable record. One candidate holds his history over his head like a prize, leering at everyone over his “victory.” The other candidate acknowledges his history, and has built his platform on improving. Which candidate is which depends on with whom you are talking.
The recent debate consisted of Biden and Trump attempting to make their political arguments. This is a key part of debating, and the reason most people tune in. What is not a key part of debating was Trump interrupting whenever Biden opened his mouth. The frustration felt by debate viewers as it slowly devolved into sandbox insults was universal. I watched it live, sitting with my friends in front of a small TV in a hot dorm room. We felt the tension in the room as we held hands, eyes glued to the screen, stress-eating gummy worms from the C-Store. This was not just a debate. This was not just the future of our country. This was the future of us. What will happen to us is contingent on these debates — and who ends up victorious.
I am a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many of my friends are as well. I have friends from many diverse backgrounds. Several of my friends belong to racial and ethnic minority groups. This debate blatantly yelled at us that not only are we so undervalued that we’re demoted to topics in a shoddily-moderated debate, but that we are not even worth defending when our livelihoods are hanging in the balance. Donald Trump is clearly not on our side. He isn’t even on his own supporters’ sides. This debate only reinforced that with his lies. We know you don’t care, President Trump. At least acknowledge our dignity and give us the truth. But I know he won’t, and so do the people who see him for what he is.
Most people used to claim that politics were not something to lose friends over. They would claim politics weren’t a deciding factor in relationships, and that it wasn’t an important thing to focus on. I highly disagree. The first debate between Biden and Trump has shown one thing to be abundantly clear: this was not a debate over politics. It was an argument over human rights. I do not care what your definition of politics is; the American political landscape is a thinly-veiled fight over who is entitled to constitutional rights listed in the document that is the backbone of our nation. At this point, everyone knows what Trump has done while in office. The question is not, “Can he save our nation?” as posed in the debate. The question is, “Who will make excuses four years later?”