For a debate that supposedly does not matter in the grand scheme of presidential elections, there sure seems to be a lot of talk about it. Vice President Joe Biden was on par with his aggressive style while VP contender Paul Ryan held his own with his calm, collected composure. The one thing there has not been is consensus on who actually won. The latest CNN poll says that 48 percent of viewers thought Ryan won the debate while 44 percent thought VP Biden won. However, CNN’s poll was in the margin of error and the focus group of people who watched the debate ranked it a statistical tie. Of course, because we as GW students are political junkies, it is our fundamental duty to make a bigger deal than necessary out of everything political. I mean, we are in DC right?
But if we are to orient ourselves with everything political, I think we also have the added duty to understand the issues from both sides if we are to truly understand the political process. Far too often, I see my fellow students as politically polarized as Congress is right now. Our very own namesake George Washington warned against factions because of the partisan gridlock that we see today. We are all guilty of it at least once when we look at things from a biased perspective without credit to the other side. The biggest offender of that was through the various Facebook and Twitter statuses on debate night.
Here are some of the most common biased, VP debate night Facebook statuses about who “won” the debate:
“Wonderful, strong performance from the Vice President. Joe set the record straight, pushed back hard against Rep. Ryan’s lies (“that’s a load of malarkey”), and made a forceful case for progressive public policy. Biden was great!”
“Tonight, Paul Ryan laid out two clear paths for America. Romney and Ryan are serious about turning this economy around. Biden only established that he had a serious case of the giggles tonight.”
“Phenomenal debate. Great amount of clash. Stupendous moderator (get it gurlll). And mad props to Joe Biden for articulating the fact that it is not contradictory to be Christian and a democrat. I also really liked the part where he won. Hopefully Obama took a few notes tonight.”
“The mainstream media castigated Romney for his interruptions during the debate. If you think they will do the same to Biden, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.”
The sign of a good debate is one where there is no clear winner, and last Thursday was no exception. Nobody really won the debate, despite what friends’ Facebook and Twitter updates will tell you. As we look forward to the next presidential debate this Tuesday, everyone at GW should look at these debates fairly based on the issues and performance, not on partisanship. As E.B. White once said, “The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.”
Be the leader who seizes that open doorway.