‘USA, I feel bad for you’: Canadians console Americans after ‘physically hurtful to watch’ first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden

Canadians, while sorry for the state of American politics, are wondering if the 2025 federal election will produce similar disappointment

Canadians were left feeling sorry for their neighbours to the south after witnessing a “disaster” of a clash between GOP candidate Donald Trump and President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate which featured both men trading insults, accusations of lying and incoherent sentences that resulted in many people feeling bad for the current state of U.S. politics.

“People are going to do fact checks and analysis of Biden and Trump’s statements at the end of this debate, as if it matters here. Impressions matter more. Biden’s is abysmal. This is a disaster,” Globe and Mail Columnist Robyn Urback posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Similar sentiments were shared by Canadian political analyst Tasha Kheiriddin who seemed to feel deeply disappointed by the poor performance put on show by the two Americans.

“This debate is painful to watch. Biden is clearly unwell. Trump spews lies and hyperbole. America has to do better,” she penned in an online note.

Both the candidates debated over a broad range of issues, including economy, climate change and foreign policy, however, what stood out the most was the “petty” and “childish” behaviour put on display by two elderly and experienced politicians, as noted by viewers on social media platforms.

The candidates' behaviour — with Trump outwardly spewing falsities and Biden's vacant expression and at-times, incoherent phrasing — wasn’t only limited to the duration of the debate. Biden later followed up his performance with a post from his official X handle captioned “Donald Trump is a sucker and a loser,” which sparked a conversation whether the president of the United States should partake in name-calling.

“Can you imagine Obama tweeting this 15 years ago? Our current times are so damn funny,” an X user posted.

The aftermath of the CNN presidential debate was mocked and ridiculed to such an extent online that it sparked a brutal meme-fest among social media users who put no filter on expressing their true reactions to the Thursday night event.

If the online reaction through memes and unfiltered commentary wasn’t enough of a proof of how the first debate landed, a snap poll by CNN immediately after the broadcast revealed the majority of Americans hailed Trump as victorious over Biden, which many believe wasn’t because the Republican had valid arguments, rather because the Democrat leader balked in key moments, with unusual statements like declaring "we finally beat Medicare."

Biden stumbling during the debate meant he had to come back stronger later as he rallied to rebuke Trump over his sordid personal history, saying he had “the morals of an alley cat”, and over his alleged “suckers and losers” remark regarding America’s military dead.

However, he failed to hold his predecessor to account over his recent criminal conviction and chaotic record in office from 2017 to 2021, which ended with the failed assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob of his supporters.

Critics accused Trump of repeating lies and falsehoods throughout the debate while failing to answer questions and having to be pressed three times on whether he would accept the election results, ultimately saying he would only do so if he was satisfied they were “fair and legal”.

While many Canadians were busy feeling sorry for America, there were some who drew the attention back home, wondering what the upcoming election fight in 2025 would look like.

“I hope Canadians understand our next election will be just as bad as this debate or if not worse,” health policy expert Ahmed Ali posted on X.

The responses to Ali’s post were mixed, with some agreeing while others pointing out the differences between Canada and the United States of America.

Going in to the election year, things aren't looking up for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whose approval rating is now at an all-time low while opposition and Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre continues to gain ground in polls.

With the recent defeat in the Toronto-St. Paul's riding, a seat that Liberals hadn't lost in the last three decades, Trudeau has much to think about as questions are beginning to rise in his camp over the future of party leadership.