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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

I think CNN’s Jake Tapper summed up the first 2020 Presidential Debate best: “That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.” I have never listened to anything quite so hilarious and disturbing at the same time. Not only was it the equivalent of listening to a fork in a garbage disposal, but it was an extremely distressing picture of our current political atmosphere. So like many others, I have tried to focus on the humor of the debate and have enjoyed seeing other people’s similar reactions. So here is a list of some of the best post-debate memes which are the only good things to come out of that debate.


Trump’s interruptions

I think we can all agree that Trump’s interjections were easily the most annoying part of the debate. However, what made them so bad was that most of them were not even substantive or useful comments. This meme perfectly captures this. The moment Trump started talking over Biden the rules went out the window and the debate went off the tracks.

The dumpster fire

The gif in this meme really sums up the feelings anyone watching this debate felt. As mentioned before, this debate truly was a dumpster fire. There was nothing truly substantive said, except for what we were able to hear in the few instances where Trump was not trying to say something.

European forest cities

One of the most hilarious parts of the debate was when Trump tried to pose as an environmentalist, when his administration has systematically undone environmental regulation. If you are going to be a climate change denier, please just be genuine about it; anyone that truly cares about the environment is most likely not going to be convinced to support Trump with these kinds of touts at the debate. Also, does anyone know what European forest cities are or is this another Trumpian fever dream?

Michael Scott would approve

If you are a fan of The Office, then you understand how truly accurate this meme is. The debate felt like a constant struggle between the candidates and the moderator over who was going to speak. This constant conflict and yelling had me stressed, equivalent to the characters in this scene from The Office.

Why I went to Barnard

Although Trump was definitely the instigator of conflict and a bully in this debate, there is nothing more grating than listening to three white men yell at each other. Perhaps this image is symbolic of where we are in America today. While less privileged Americans are constantly struggling to enjoy the same rights and privileges as more well-off Americans, the only response we seem to get from our divided, tribalistic government is two white men in an ineffective screaming match.

“Women are too emotional”


As a woman wanting to pursue a career in politics growing up in a conservative culture, I heard many times from my male peers and insinuations from a few of my male religious teachers that women were not made to be in positions of authority. I even had a female high school peer say that she did not support Hillary Clinton because she did not believe a woman should be president. The idea that women are too emotional and not sensible enough to hold positions of authority has long been an argument for acts of misogyny. This tweet perfectly captures the bogus and ironic nature of statements like these about women.

That was a Presidential debate?

Again, this meme perfectly summarizes the chaos of the debate. As I said before, it really was just two old men yelling at each other, and this is unfortunately the only key takeaway most viewers had from this debate. Instead of hearing different ideas about how we can improve our country, we instead were treated to a petty argument with an endless, incoherent string of ad hominems from Trump.

We all were waiting for it.

Biden and this meme summed up how we all felt during this debate and how most of us feel anytime we hear Trump speak. I love how this moment has become a meme and is being used in other contexts. This line is perhaps the only iconic quote we have from the debate, and I certainly think it sums up the zeitgeist of today’s political culture.

Elizabeth Flachbart

Columbia Barnard '22

Elizabeth is a senior at Barnard College studying political science and English. She loves to talk about politics, books, theater, and cats. When she isn't in class, she is probably reading The Economist or binge-watching Gilmore Girls.