Roaring into Recession 

Travel back in time a whole century to the year 1922, the dawn of what has become known as the roaring ‘20s.  Forever immortalized in the textbooks, literature, and imaginations of America, the 1920s will be remembered as a time of decadence, affluence, technological advances, and moral degradation.  Does it sound familiar?  We think of Art Deco, The Great Gatsby, the flappers, and the speakeasies.  What doesn’t come to mind nearly as often is that just like in 2022, a hundred years back, the world was also only several years out from a global pandemic, the Spanish flu of 1919-1920.  Another point of interest is the turning point in Russia at the time.  The Soviet Union was formed in 1922.  Today, the invasion of Ukraine has once again placed Russia in the spotlight of the international news.  The ‘20s today eerily mirror the ‘20s of the twentieth century.  And what is the significance of this?  Everyone knows what brought the roaring ‘20s to a screeching halt.  According to a number of economic trends, it looks like the United States may once again be on the road to another economic recession.

We’ll start by taking a look at the effect of the major global crisis of the times: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia, as well as companies pulling out of the nation, have naturally led to supply chain issues, of which we are feeling the effect.  As a significant producer of oil and other commodities, these actions against Russia have hiked up prices in oil, food, and components for consumer goods, only leading to further inflation and economic hardship.   Necessities are now taking up a larger percent of a person’s income, and this decreases demand in other industries.  Now, decreased purchasing power leads to less consumer spending, due to their deceased discretionary income.  Less consumer spending means less money flowing through the economy, which ultimately slows economic growth. All of this leads to a reduced GDP growth and an increased risk of recession, ultimately leaving citizens to fear a possible return to the ‘70s.

 Stagflation, a combination of stagnation and inflation, was the hallmark of the 1970s and is once again applicable in this day and age.  Essentially, it means a combination of elevated prices, inflation, and decreased economic growth, or stagnation.  The government increased printing of new dollars in the past two years in hopes of stimulating the economy after the lockdowns.  Injecting more money into the economy will also inevitably lead to inflation, which is at a 40 year high.  In response, the Fed raised its interest rates in hopes of stopping this inflation.  Raising interest rates, however, slows down economic growth through disincentivizing loans, and can even cause recessions.  In doing so, the government is walking a fine line between inflation and recession. 

Another time-tested indicator of recession is an inverted yield curve.  What exactly does this mean? To begin, a yield curve is a graph showing the difference in interest rates between bonds. 

 The yield curve should slope up, but now, it slopes downward instead.  An inversion in the yield curve means that short-term interest rates, in this case 2 year bonds, exceed the rates for long-term, 10 year bonds, meaning investors believe the economy will fall sharply.  An inversion in the yield curve corresponds to the onset of an economic recession; it has predicted every economic recession in the last 50 years.  Essentially, when short-term rates are higher than long-term ones, banks no longer want to lend money, limiting opportunity for economic growth and making it harder for companies to pay off current loans.  The inverted yield curve heralds a looming recession in the near future. 

Although it may have seemed like a positive, the low unemployment levels may be yet another cause of concern for the future.  Firstly, low unemployment can be taken as a green light to raise interest rates, which naturally slows down economic growth.  Secondly, this low unemployment rate is causing increased inflation.  In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re seeing the rapid retirement of the baby boomers, the wealthiest generation in history, who control 53% of the USA’s wealth.   This leaves a workforce vacuum, leaving a multitude of available jobs and positions which creates the low unemployment.  Since there are now more jobs than people willing or available to work, the labor costs are rising. In order to afford the labor costs, prices also must go up, which leads to inflation.  Essentially, with the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world tried to turn the world economy off and then turn back on. This is simply not how it works.  Inevitably, the fallout of the lockdowns is leading to economic concern. 

It is a known phenomenon that everything tends to regress to the mean.  We are currently at a time of economic excess, with high inflation a telltale sign.  The only way to alleviate these excesses is to decrease economic activity through a recession.  As the chart shows, historically, peaks in inflation have been followed by a recession.  

The economy goes in cycles.  History goes in cycles. The economy shapes history and history shapes the economy. Every aspect of the economy is intricately interwoven with the past, current, and future events.  While major, external circumstances like disasters and politics are the major drivers of the macroeconomic scene, at the individual level, we have the power to make day to day financial decisions that microscopically shape the economy.  Some tips for preparing for an economic recession include, setting aside an emergency fund, paying off any current debts, living a more frugal lifestyle, and building up your resume in case of job loss.  And so, we as college students, with our lives ahead of us, face an uncertain future in terms of the economy upon graduation.  But how we prepare, budget, and save is up to us.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of all is that we have the ability to learn from history.

The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.

The Darsch Report: January 25 to 31

Ken Paxton Goes After San Antonio Mayor

According to KSAT, in an amended petition regarding an ongoing lawsuit on San Antonio’s sanctuary city’s status, Mayor Ron Nirenburg has been implicated for the first time in the case. The lawsuit accuses the city of defying a state law requiring local governments to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

In the petition Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses Nirenburg of instructing city staff not to contact federal authorities after 12 people believed to be immigrants without documentation were found inside a tractor-trailer in Dec. 2017.

The claims made in the petition state that the mayor told high-ranking officials that he “does not want ICE called,” and that releasing them without being handed over to federal immigration officials as a “Christmas gift” for their families.

This decision to release the suspected illegal immigrants by SAPD Chief William McManus’ has been described by Paxton as in violation of Senate Bill 4. Nirenburg called the criticism of the release as “nothing more than political theater based on a fictitious narrative.”

Texas vs Biden

On Tues., Jan. 26, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared “Victory” on Twitter after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop President Joe Biden’s deportation freeze.

According to U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in the Southern District Court of Texas, the Biden Administration will not be allowed to pause deportations of illegal immigrants. Biden had tried to do so on his first day in office, but Paxton sued the administration, arguing the president’s move was “unlawful and perilous.”

In the order, Tipton wrote that the Biden Administration had failed to “provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

“*This* [sic] was a seditious left-wing insurrection. And my team and I stopped it.” Paxton stated on Twitter.

This executive order was one of many the Biden Administration has signed attempting to overturn many Trump Administration policies. Other orders include stopping funding for border wall construction, reentering the Paris Climate Accord, and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project.

After Tipton’s order, Paxton celebrated the decision to “prioritize the law and safety of our citizens.”

“The Court’s decision to stop the Biden Administration from casting aside congressionally enacted immigration laws is a much-needed remedy for DHS’s unlawful action. A near-complete suspension of deportations would only serve to endanger Texans and undermine federal law,” Paxton said in a press release.

Reddit Takes on the Stock Market

Over the past week, the internet and the stock market have both been on fire as thousands upon thousands of Reddit users from r/WallStreetBets (WSB) have decided to take on hedge fund Melvin Capital and save GameStop.

Investors from the Reddit page noticed that Melvin Capital was attempting to heavily drop the price of GameStop stock ($GME) by shorting around 140% of the $GME stock that they owned. In response, they gathered as many WSB users they could and told them to buy the stock as a meme with the potential of the rise in price hurting Melvin and leaving them with some capital gains in the end. This meme has now spread to all corners of the internet and $GME as of Friday closed at a price of $328.34 compared to the price from a month ago of around $17.

Short-selling hedge funds have suffered heavily from this buying of $GME with a year-to-date mark-to-market loss on the stock of around $19.75 billion, according to data from S3 Partners

In response to the dramatic increase in stock price, brokerage apps such as E*Trade, RobinHood, TD Ameritrade, etc halted and/or limited trading of dozens of different stocks with the heaviest limitations placed on stocks being targeted by WSB like $GME, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. ($AMC), Blackberry Ltd ($BB), Nokia ($NOK), etc.

Still, though, short-sellers are holding onto their bearing positions or are being bought by other short sellers willing to take the bet. However, WSB is still claiming to hold or buying more of the stock and will refuse to sell.

This new week may prove who has the greater resolve, who is more stubborn, or both.

US Economy

The stock market has not been responding well to the news of Reddit taking on hedge funds as over the week the Dow Jones decreased to 29,982.62 on Friday, decreasing by -977.38 points, or -3.16 percent over its Jan. 25 close of 30,960.00. The S&P 500 decreased by -141.12 points or -3.66 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -4.15 percent.

Military Coup in Myanmar

As of this moment, a military coup is taking place in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Myanmar’s military has detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders of the country and has declared a one-year state of emergency.

The move follows a landslide win by Suu Kyi’s party in an election the army claims was marred by fraud.

In a letter written in preparation for her impending detention, she said the military’s actions would put the country back under a dictatorship and has urged supporters to not accept this coup and to protest against it.

Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the leading voices pushing for democratic reforms in Myanmar during the military rule that ended in 2011. She was internationally hailed as a beacon of democracy and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. However, her reputation heavily suffered after an army crackdown on the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority that some have described as a genocide.

Time will tell how this will change Myanmar but for now, the military has replaced all of the ministers, arrested many leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and have installed former vice-president and retired Gen. Myint Swe as the temporary president.

Values Over Figures

We should always be critical and wary of our political figures, and always hold them accountable to upholding our American values.

In early September of 1774, delegates from the American colonies met together to react to the Coercive Acts implemented by the British. Now known as the First Continental Congress, those delegates discussed how they would address the humiliating taxes and restrictions imposed by the British.

They knew that in order to enact change, they would have to engage in open rebellion. Because he admired his military experience and reputation, John Adams nominated George Washington to lead the Continental Army.

With sweeping assent from the whole delegation, George Washington addressed the First Congress in an acceptance speech. While outlying his fervor in leading the colonies to freedom, his speech also had a profound plea: “But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”

A president has many roles. As supreme commander, there is a duty to conduct military affairs in a moral and just manner. As leader of the free world, there is an oath to uphold our inalienable rights. And as a figurehead to their political party, there is an obligation to represent the values of their party.

But in respecting the significance of those positions and roles, we must be wary of elevating the person above this paramount office.

It is a vice we have indulged in throughout our history. We tend to attribute political and cultural accomplishments to a single figure. We say Churchill saved England during World War II while sidelining the efforts of British parliament. When we say Reagan revitalized the American economy, we glance over the emergence of new economic theories that made it possible. 

We do this because it is more simple to attribute cultural and political occurrences to one entity. Politics can be quite complex, as well as uncertain. By attributing culture and politics to a single figure, we are given a form of permanence and certainty—that as long as that figure is active, so too will be the political and cultural phenomenon of their day. 

But doing this leads to the danger of elevation. Especially in regards to the presidency, one should never “become” their office. To do so implies that one’s value is equal to what that office represents. And in doing so, the figure gets the opportunity to rise above their office, and thus gets the power to redefine what that office represents and stands for. 

In a constitutional republic, this can never bode well. When a figure becomes elevated above the law of the land, their intentions—whether good or ill—inherently undermine the value of the Constitution. In this, our fragile republic can also be undermined, whether by the will of the figure or by the followers that support them. 

Instead, the figure should place themself below their office, and hold themself accountable to preserving and representing the platform that they have been honored with. They should not define themself by the position that they are given, or consider their worth equal to the worth of the office that they hold. 

Rather, they should strive to make themself worthy of holding that office, pushing themself to uphold the values, duties, and oaths that come with their position.

In other words, no one should be above the values that they hold, especially in the matter of the presidency. But the president, or any other influential political figure, does not have to be alone in holding themselves accountable. 

We are citizens, and constituents, and voters. In those capacities, we have the power to enable and empower figures in our society. But we also have the capacity to hold those same figures accountable, and criticize or limit them when they stray from the values of their office. In other words, political figures should not become the worth of our values. 

As we enter a new presidency, we must be mindful of our power to enable political figures, as well as our responsibility to disavow political figures. We should always be critical and wary of our political figures, and always hold them accountable to upholding our American values. 

Biden Marks a Turning Point for Polarization

When the primary candidates for the Democratic seat are old, white men, we are left to question the integrity of the liberal slogan to promote diversity.

What this election has shown us

While the 2020 election was an extremely close call for the Democrat shoe-in Joe Biden, it was also a wake up call for Republican voters, and politically conservative individuals. The main thing I noticed during this election time was how talking points had shifted and how race and identity politics were no longer a point of interest for the Democratic hopefuls. It seemed like the political environment no longer reflected the feminist ideology or really addressed the racist tendencies of Creepy Uncle Joe. Suddenly it became about the way Trump was incapable of curing COVID in America, and how he was a “mouthpiece for the Russian agenda.” Even in debate, Biden’s talking points were far from specific and heavily relied on buzzwords and phrases. 

However, despite this, I am not entirely sure that the shift in agenda is entirely purposeful, or if the reason behind covering up sexual assault allegations is in fact because of Biden. It seems like the Democratic Party has shifted its focus in order to placate a larger audience and give them scraps of digestible talking points. I firmly believe that Joe Biden will make no difference in the long run, moreover, his presidency will serve as a reminder that liberals do not care about sexual harassment as long as you’re a Democrat. I remember the Kavanaugh confirmation, people went so far as to wear black as a sign of protest, there were riots, and there were extreme protests. It became a largely pressing issue, and was a major part of core Democratic values; yet the same shouting voices in 2018 are silently supporting Biden, despite accusations of pedophilia and unwanted advances on women. 

In my opinion, it seems as though she [Kamala Harris] is presented as a willing accomplice to his racism and sexual assault allegations by providing a singular counterexample of his ‘good’ behavior.

Many people who support Biden may object by stating that Kamala Harris functions as a juxtaposition to his more egregious behavior, but to that I say, why does she have to? Is her role as the Vice President to function as a counter to his irresponsible and offensive behavior? In my opinion, it seems as though she is presented as a willing accomplice to his racism and sexual assault allegations by providing a singular counterexample of his ‘good’ behavior. In social clubs we talk about the detriment of tokenizing POC, but the Democratic Party has brandished the same troublesome tendencies. Something that truly appalls me is the way that they address the sexual assault allegations. It has been on record that, despite women coming forward to verify the claims, they have cherry picked certain people to testify the opposite. The Democratic Party’s hypocrisy is screaming to America that, although Biden is accused of being inappropriate with young women, Democrat politicians and supporters are willing to snuff out the allegations by enough women claiming that it “never happened to them.” Therefore allegations against Biden must not be true. The platform of the #MeToo movement is being destroyed because it no longer aligns with the way Democratic candidates need to be perceived. This shows us that the social platforms of the Democratic Party are a sham and will be abandoned at a moment’s notice. The Democratic Party has no true social values, as we can see in the difference between the way they addressed Kavanaugh versus Biden. 

Additionally, I have made this argument throughout the course of my academic career, there should be more representation in government. In my opinion, it would be good to have more representation in Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Senate to incorporate more diversity; and yet when the opportunity arises for more female representation in the Supreme Court, it is met with liberal backlash. When the primary candidates for the Democratic seat are old, white men, we are left to question the integrity of the liberal slogan to promote diversity. When I bring this up to many of my friends who identify as either Socialist or generally left-leaning, they seem to no longer support the motto of diverse representation because of Bernie Sanders. Why is it that left-leaning individuals are able to chastise right-leaning voters for supporting a candidate who has been known to be inappropriate when they do the exact same thing?

It was never about the values Biden stands for, nor his economic policy. This election season has acted as revenge against the Trump Administration.

 I feel as though with the results of this election, it says more about forced voting tendencies of a two party system more than anything else. It was never about the values Biden stands for, nor his economic policy. This election season has acted as revenge against the Trump Administration. I firmly believe that voting matters, but voting with reactionary tendencies leads to the wrong types of politicians representing the people of America. Not only was the Biden election reactionary, but also the Trump election. This election, for the most part, was not about voting to voice an individual opinion but to create a reactionary echo-chamber against the Trump Administration. It was an attempt to get the masses to push Trump out of office at any cost by casting a ballot solely for the presidency. The 2020 election will serve as a turning point for the polarization of the two party system in which someone like Biden, who many people remark as the worst option for Democratic presidential candidacy, was able to win the popular vote, not because of his merits, but because of the color of his tie. 

The Decline of the Modern Presidential Debate

Ultimately, the civil witticism that once underlaid presidential debates was brought to an end.

Leading up to the end of October in 1984, Kansas City had gained notable news coverage. The much anticipated event had finally come: the first presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. Reagan had endured an arduous, yet fruitful four years in office previously. Now Mondale, the former vice president under Jimmy Carter, challenged him to the office in the heart of Missouri. 

During the debate, the moderator gave the floor to Henry Trewhitt, a correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. Trewhitt proceeded to highlight how Reagan, at that time, was the oldest president to ever assume the Oval Office. He then asked, with questionable subtly, whether Reagan would be able to handle the rigors of office.

Reagan, adopting his trademark smooth and rustic charm, swiftly responded: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

The auditorium erupted in laughter and applause as Reagan coolly took a sip from a glass of water. Even Mondale could not help his wide smile.

The response, of course, was not an insult to his opponent. Although Mondale was younger, he was still fifty-six, hardly the age one would describe as “youthful”. Rather, Reagan’s comment was a witty yet subtle rebuke to Trewhitt and other critics’ opinions over his age.

Presidential debates should be about how each candidate addresses political issues that have a strong bearing on the public mind. Impoverishment and economic reform, infrastructure and taxes, climate change and environmental guidelines – their solutions to these issues are what make presidential debates important to the nation. 

But we must admit that on occasion, we indulge in witty soundbites or clever jokes. Instances like these lighten up the debate with chuckles or grins, a brief solace from the difficult issues at hand. In other words, such witty comments work best when they are both subtle and apt.

“Subtle” and “apt” are among the last words I would use to describe our most recent presidential debate. 

Jarring and chaotic would be more fitting. Our last “presidential” debate was not so presidential. Rather than being the pinnacle of political debate in America, it was more reminiscent of a verbal boxing match between two spiteful rivals.

The moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, did his best to steer the debate by bringing up relevant topics and issues in America. But he could hardly control the conversation with the number of interruptions, insults, and off-topic rebuttals that came from both candidates. 

Instead of focusing mainly on important political issues, the candidates seemed adamant on creating those “witty retorts” – or rather, outright insults.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was focused on discrediting President Donald Trump in the eyes of the American public. At one point, he turned forward and spoke directly to the camera: “you know you don’t trust him,” he said, in an unsubtle attempt to appeal to the viewers. Towards the end of the debate, Biden made a bold claim of stating that the current presidency has left America “weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided, and more violent” without any preface.

Of course, Trump was not wholly innocent in this divisive exchange. He took to commenting on Biden’s intelligence, stating “there is nothing smart about you, Joe,” then proceeding to claim that he graduated bottom of his class. Trump also made a bold assertion near the end of the debate, stating how Biden had absolutely no support from law enforcement.

Those were but a few examples of how courtesy and decorum slowly dissolved throughout the debate. After the event, initial reactions from pundits were centered less on how the candidates responded to the moderator’s prompts, but more about how the pair got at each other’s throats. 

Ultimately, the civil witticism that once underlaid presidential debates was brought to an end on that night.

But can we actually be surprised?

As a whole, we have already made up our minds. We have already decided our views on these issues, already affirmed our position on their solutions. But we have also closed off our minds to the ideas and opinions of the other side.

The presidential debate stage represents the most popular political opinions and ideas in our nation. These candidates represent the ideas of millions, and to see them debate each other is a symbolic embodiment of having the opposite political opinions we share challenge themselves on a physical stage. 

Of course, we are not obligated to accept the differing political views of the other side. But we should be expected to approach them with at least an open mind. 

But current discourse has seen a worrying decline of tolerance for opposing views, and the effects of this could be seen in our last presidential debate. Rather than being a podium for civil and sincere discourse, the debate was more like a rowdy sports stadium, with loud fans trying to drown out each other with jeers and heckles from either side, with little intent of watching the game. 

The presidential debate should be more than a series of jeers and heckles. It should be less about which candidate has the more amusing soundbites, or the better insults. Instead, keep the witticism sharp and subtle, and focus more on the issues that Americans sincerely care about.