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Debate Debacle: Desi Americans React to Biden-Trump Clash

Dr. Tausif Malik

Debate Debacle: Desi Americans React to Biden-Trump Clash. In their heated debate Thursday night on CNN, the gap between the 81-year-old incumbent President Joe Biden and his 78-year-old challenger, former President Donald Trump, seemed much larger than their chronological ages suggest.

The showdown, marked by sharp exchanges and personal attacks, left many South Asian Desi Americans—Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afghan, Sri Lankan, and Nepalese Americans—reflecting on the candidates’ performances and the implications for their communities.

The South Asian population in the United States, numbering approximately 5.4 million, comprises individuals with ancestry from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

Traditionally, a significant portion of this community has leaned towards the Democratic Party, attracted by its inclusive policies on immigration, minority rights, and social welfare. However, in recent years, there has been a growing interest among South Asians in the Republican Party, driven by concerns over economic policies, small business interests, and conservative social values.

Additionally, a notable segment identifies as Independents, reflecting a desire for policies that transcend party lines. South Asians have become increasingly active in U.S. politics, with rising numbers running for public office, engaging in grassroots organizing, and participating in advocacy on issues ranging from healthcare and education to immigration reform and civil rights. Their active involvement underscores the community’s evolving political influence and its critical role in shaping the broader American political landscape.

Biden’s Struggles Highlighted

Biden, hoarse and displaying little vocal range, often struggled to articulate his differences with Trump clearly. At one point, after Biden trailed off while defending his record on border security, Trump seized the moment. “I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said, either,” Trump remarked, drawing a mix of laughter and groans from the audience.

For some, Biden’s faltering performance was concerning. “It’s worrisome to see Biden so visibly struggling,” said Patel, an Indian American business owner from New Jersey. “We need a leader who can confidently articulate policies and represent us on the world stage.”

Trump’s Repeated Claims

Trump, meanwhile, reiterated his frequent election denialism. He stated he’d accept the results of the 2024 election if it’s “fair and legal,” but repeated his baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election. “You’re a whiner, and you lost the first time,” Biden shot back, attempting to counter Trump’s narrative.

“I feel Trump is too divisive,” said Khan, a Pakistani American software engineer from California. “His refusal to acknowledge the truth about the 2020 election undermines our democratic process.”

Historic First Debate

This debate was historic as it marked the first time a sitting president and a former president have ever debated. The two clashed over a wide array of topics including abortion, immigration, foreign policy, and inflation, with their exchanges often turning bitter and personal.

Personal Attacks and Heated Exchanges

The debate took a personal turn when Biden highlighted Trump’s criminal convictions. Trump retaliated by bringing up Biden’s son, Hunter, who has faced legal issues. Biden accused Trump of having an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels while his wife was pregnant. “I didn’t have sex with a porn star,” Trump retorted.

Such exchanges drew mixed reactions from the Desi community. “It’s disappointing to see leaders stoop to personal attacks,” said Rina, a Bangladeshi American teacher from Texas. “We deserve a discussion on policies, not personal vendettas.”

Biden’s Age and Performance

Biden’s performance did little to allay concerns about his age. He often appeared hoarse and stumbled over his words. Two campaign sources mentioned Biden had a cold, but this did little to comfort his critics. “He needs to demonstrate vitality and clarity,” said Rashid, an Afghan American student from Virginia. “Last night, he struggled to do that.”

Trump’s Restraint and Criticism

Surprisingly, Trump showed some restraint, especially when Biden stumbled. However, when Biden struggled with a question about the national debt, Trump remarked, “Well, he’s right: he did beat Medicare. He beat it to death.”

“Trump’s approach was uncharacteristically reserved at times, but he didn’t miss opportunities to criticize Biden,” noted Weerasinghe, a Sri Lankan American doctor from Florida. “It’s a tactical shift, but still rooted in his usual rhetoric.”

Community Reactions on Key Issues

Lack of Multi Party or Presidential Candidates Options

outh Asian American community, including American Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans, reflect a shared frustration with the perceived oligopoly in U.S. politics. Many express admiration for the multi-party systems back home, noting the irony that in the “land of the free” and a bastion of capitalism, political choice seems limited to two dominant parties.

“Back home, at least we have a multi-party system,” remarked an American Bangladeshi. “Here, it’s like an oligopoly in politics.”

This sentiment is echoed by an American Pakistani who said, “Yes, there is the Green Party and Independents, but the media and others don’t give them a chance in debates, so people don’t know their options.”

Similarly, an American Indian emphasized, “In a country that champions freedom and choice, it’s disappointing that our political system doesn’t reflect that diversity.” These reactions underscore a broader discontent with the limited visibility and viability of alternative political voices in the U.S. system.

Young Presidential Candidate

The South Asian American community, including American Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans, has voiced a strong desire for younger candidates in U.S. politics. Many feel that the current leadership does not adequately reflect the vibrancy and aspirations of the younger generation.

“We need fresh perspectives and dynamic leadership,” said an American Sri Lankan.

An American Indian echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that a younger candidate could better understand and address the challenges facing today’s diverse and evolving society.

This desire for youth in leadership is driven by a belief that new, energetic voices are essential for driving innovative solutions and fostering inclusive policies that resonate with all Americans.

Abortion Rights

Abortion was a pivotal topic, with Trump backing the Supreme Court’s decision on the abortion pill mifepristone, while Biden struggled to clearly convey his party’s stance. “Abortion rights are crucial for women’s health,” said Nisha, a Nepalese American activist from New York. “Biden’s inability to strongly advocate for this is disappointing.”

Foreign Policy and Immigration

On foreign policy, Trump blamed Biden for a host of global issues, while Biden countered by highlighting Trump’s cozy relationship with autocrats. The immigration debate also saw Biden on the defensive, with Trump blaming him for increased crime rates. “Both candidates have failed to present a humane and practical immigration policy,” said Rahman, a Pakistani American lawyer from Illinois. “This issue deeply affects our community, and we need better solutions.”

Economic Concerns

Inflation and economic recovery post-pandemic were also major points of contention. Both candidates blamed the pandemic for economic troubles, but Trump criticized Biden’s handling of the aftermath. “Inflation affects us all,” said Ayesha, a Bangladeshi American economist from Ohio. “We need clear strategies to tackle this, not just blame-shifting.”

Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Notably absent from the debate was the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “It’s disappointing that such a critical issue was overlooked,” said Sayeed, a Pakistani American journalist from Michigan. “Our community cares deeply about international human rights, and the candidates should have addressed this.”

Gun Violence

Gun violence, a pressing concern in many communities, was another topic that was not discussed. “Gun violence is a significant issue that impacts us all,” said Gupta, an Indian American activist from Illinois. “The lack of discussion on this matter is troubling, as we need strong leadership to address this epidemic.”

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing was another critical issue left unaddressed. “Housing affordability is a major concern for many Desi Americans,” said Kamal, a Nepalese American real estate agent from Maryland. “The candidates missed an opportunity to present their plans to make housing more accessible and affordable.”

Calls for Leadership Change

Some Democrats expressed panic over Biden’s performance, calling for him to step aside for a stronger candidate. David Axelrod and David Plouffe, former advisors to President Obama, suggested reconsidering Biden’s candidacy. “Biden needs to demonstrate his capability if he wants to secure another term,” said Devesh, an Indian American political analyst from Washington D.C.

Looking Ahead

As Biden and Trump prepare for their next debate on September 10, the stakes are higher than ever. Desi Americans, like many others, are looking for clear policies and strong leadership. “We need leaders who can effectively address our concerns and unite the country,” said Maya Srinivasan, a Sri Lankan American community leader from California. “Last night’s debate was a step back in that regard.”

The debate has left many in the Desi community reflecting on the need for effective leadership and clear policies that address their unique challenges and aspirations. As the election approaches, the reactions of these diverse communities will play a crucial role in shaping the political landscape.

About the Author

Dr. Tausif Malik is an Indian American social entrepreneur, publisher, and academician, renowned for his innovative ventures. He founded and publishes The Desi BuzzGCC Startup News, Startup Berita, and Halal Biz News, amplifying entrepreneurship globally. Dr. Malik also spearheads AIMBSNHalal Angels Network, and Startup Villages, fostering startup ecosystems. His groundbreaking initiative,, offers affordable edtech solutions, providing Indian university programs starting at $50 per month and professional IT courses priced at $250-$350. Through his diverse endeavors, Dr. Malik empowers individuals with access to education and opportunities.

Dr. Tausif Malik
Dr. Tausif Malik, a serial entrepreneur, academician, publisher, and editor, founder behind The Desi Buzz, GCCStartup.News, and Notably, he is the driving force behind, the world's first Affordable Education Platform (Edtech). is dedicated to fostering accessible University degrees (Undergraduate & Graduate/Masters) with starting fees as low as $60 per month, collaborating with accredited Indian Universities. Dr. Tausif Malik is a firm advocate of empowerment through education and fostering development through entrepreneurship.
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