Although for the past two weeks, my German Media class has discussed Oktoberfest and the War in Syria, the theme selected this past week was the Presidential Debate. Not only does it play a large role in shaping how voters view the presidential candidates; the debate is also one of the primary examples of how the media affects results of the election. The first in a series of three, this debate has racked up the largest number of TV viewers in the history of U.S. elections. The topics of the debate included “America’s Direction”, “Achieving Prosperity”, and “Securing America”. The issues addressed included those relevant to jobs in America, minimum wage, taxation, trade and racism.
The responses leading up to and following the debate could be heard across dorm rooms, classrooms and sport venues. Yet, despite the performance and responses of the two nominees, the overwhelming majority of students don't feel more inclined towards one candidate or the other. Students feel that instead of providing the clarification and addressing what is important for voting in this upcoming election (many for the first time), the debate has ignited more controversy than coherence on campus. Combining the three questions of competence (die Kompetenzfrage), trust (die Vertrauensfrage), and popularity (die Sympathiefrage) many watchers of the debate could not elicit a clear winner.
German-turkish author Selim Özdogen, currently residing in Ann Arbor, shared his input on the debate with German classes at U of M. Selim declared “das ist keine Demokratie” (It is not a democracy), when a debate does not answer the question of the people, and instead becomes a platform to advance one’s own ideals. Dylan Gooch, a neuroscience major here at the U of M, stated this same problem to be true. Gooch shared that for him “there are so many dissenting opinions on U.S. issues, such as whether NAFTA was or was not a good U.S. policy, making it difficult for young adults to make decisions”.
College Republican’s president Enrique Zalamea described how an event screening the debate to all students interested, was disrupted by protesters: “We were met with protesters who disrupted our peaceful non-partisan event with hateful comments. Everyone is entitled to their own political opinions, but it’s disappointing to see such animosity from a liberal population that ironically advocates acceptance, tolerance, and personal freedoms”.
What will happen during the next debate is controversial, but what can be predicted is that students will prioritize watching it in the hopes of becoming informed on the possible directions for America’s future.
If you missed the debate you can find a link below and other interesting articles addressing the issues and content of the debate
For articles addressing the debate and what was discussed:
- Highlights from the first debate, selected by the New York Times.
- Fact Check of the First Presidential Debate by NPR
Links to the Debate and other Helpful Debate Videos:
- Story behind the Presidential Debate by NPR
German Responses to the Debate:
- 'Clintons Kopf gegen Trumps Bauch' by Zeit Online
- 'US-Präsidentschaftswahl 2016' by Der Spiegel
- Liveticker: Erstes TV-Duell zwischen Hillary Clinton und Donald Trump by Deutsche Welle
Emily Young is a student in International Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. She grew up in the tri-border region of Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium and has a serious interest in US and EU Relations. Emily loves photography and will contribute a photo series.