The bizarre spectacle that was the separately-run presidential town hall events last week was interesting to say the least. “Saturday Night Live” did a great twelve-minute rendition of a largely expected affair — Biden appealing to the ‘decency’ of voters and Trump gradually being broken down by a rather outwardly cheerful Savannah Guthrie on NBC.
Despite the Biden town hall initially receiving both higher ratings and greater viewership, the more interesting of the two had to be Donald Trump’s grilling by the Today show anchor.
The onus was on the president, not Joe Biden, to defend his record on the coronavirus pandemic, a struggling economy, and a fresh wave of right-wing extremism to prospective voters, but he was unable to do so without resorting to his victimhood playbook.
After praising his own record, refusing to disavow his QAnon supporters, and admitting to owing $400 million dollars in debt, the President spent the following week lamenting the biased media and taunting a ‘60 Minutes’ star for unfair questioning. For the leader of a party that loathes personal victimhood and snowflakes, this unbridled, vitriolic behavior on display was a fascinating watch.
While I could wax poetic about the absurdity of making viewers flip back and forth, or having to spend double the time in order to watch both events, the fact is that these details, like the sensationalized outrage over giving the President airtime after dropping out from the original debate, are irrelevant at this point.
Even the next scheduled debate, in which the Debate Commission has promised to mute the mics of the opposing party during individual remarks, is highly unlikely to move people on key issues.
This is not an attempt at punditry, but backed by polling that says that only two to five percent of voters remain undecided while millions of Americans have already casted their ballots.
The reality is that many people do not care about political debates, and do not care about politics in general. They view most of the daily political scandals and campaign headlines as background noise. Pundits on both sides with the most well-formed opinions are also the most vocal on social media and the press, and tend to skew the conversation to lead people to believe that everyone who votes for one party takes a hard-line stance on every issue. I for one, found myself turned off by the whole debate affair after watching the first one devolve into a yelling match that was deeply unpleasant to witness.
So instead of watching two septuagenarians duke it out next week to see who can be heard on their opponent’s mic, I will remain more interested in what potential voters can actually do to make their voices heard.
There are a wealth of voter registration and volunteer mobilization resources on the web like, VoteSaveAmerica and Studentsfor2020.org.
In a state like Georgia, where polling has suggested that the state is tied for the presidential candidates, Every. Vote. Counts. And as college students, something that we may not have thought about is where to vote. It may be beneficial for students to vote at their home addresses to support local candidates in tight races out-of-state.
In the last two weeks leading up to the election, the only productive venture is to be action-oriented.
It may be beneficial to turn off the TV, forget the polls and analysis, and ask ourselves what we truly want our futures to look like. And then go ask five of the last people you texted if they have a plan to vote.