By: Brooke Barschat
After the first presidential debate, I believe most of us watched in horror as the countdown to the final debate began. We didn’t want another mess of constant interruptions and angry comments where no one learns anything new about the candidates; we wanted a debate that was actually productive and revealed new things about the candidates. In my opinion, this goal was actually achieved, and I believe this was due to the threat of the mute button. Even the threat of a silencing seemed enough to cause an improvement in the candidates’ behavior, The button had to be used very few times, though it did not hold back the candidates in their respective two-minute responses.
It’s pretty obvious why this was a saving grace for Americans. We finally got the debate we deserved. We got to actually hear what the candidates had to say. Even the moderator was able to get out the questions without having to yell at one of the candidates to let the other speak. Though some of the comments said by the candidates were a bit untrue, there was still a big improvement in the amount of information we learned about the candidates’ plans and positions since the last debate. We were able to hear the clashes in the candidates’ views on the handling of COVID-19, election interference, policies in China and North Korea, healthcare coverage, economic relief, the minimum wage, immigration, race relations in America, and the environment and fracking.
So obviously, this button helped Americans get a coherent and less stress-inducing debate, but how was this button helpful for the candidates?
For many Americans, an interrupting and belligerent candidate is not an appealing one, so by taking away the candidate’s option to interrupt also takes away the option for the candidate to make themselves look like a bumbling fool. This was especially helpful for Trump who could not seem to help himself from interrupting in the last debate and ended up making himself look less appealing.
However, interrupting is part of Trump’s strategy. His interruptions and attempts to dominate are attempts to throw his candidate off their game, thus the mute button was a saving grace for Biden as well. As Trump could not employ this strategy, he was able to focus on his actual answers instead focusing on defending himself against attacks and/or trying desperately to reclaim his time.
Ultimately, I feel this was a successful debate. I feel that this debate, much more than the previous debate, will help undecided voters make a decision and will motivate those who haven’t already to submit their ballots. Even if it doesn’t achieve this, this debate definitely instilled a lot more faith in the American people about politics, particularly after the dumpster fire that occurred last time.
My conclusion: More mute buttons at political debates.