The Truth About Political Debates…By A Republican

Here’s the truth about the political debates of both parties as currently structured. (emphasis mine…)

"If anything would convince me to lean away from running, it was watching all of those guys with too little time, with too many Mickey Mouse questions from the reporters.
It’s exactly the wrong way to pick a president, and I think it doesn’t help the country much."

— Newt Gingrich, talking about the first Republican presidential debate on Hannity & Colmes last night.
Hat tip Political Wire

Newt Gingrich is correct. The world of ‘political debates’ is a travesty of sound bites repeated endlessly with little or no interaction between candidates. A stronger judgment could easily be made and defended: ‘…it hurts the country in the process.

These aren’t debates. These are simply longer sound bite forums. While they serve a better purpose than the standard TV news 20 second ‘news’ report, this format, which is apparently now considered traditional, deadens meaningful interaction. We’ve even had an Move-On Net ‘debate’ where the answers were recorded in advance. It gives the word ‘debate’ a bad name.

The actual definition of ‘debate‘ is:

-to argue with one another
-to consider:think carefully: weigh
-to discuss the pro’s and con’s of an issue

None of that is happening in our political ‘debates’. The candidates aren’t given time to formulate real substantive answers to complicated issues. To make matters worse, they can’t challenge one another to provide the factual basis behind the other candidates remarks. Beyond the slightly longer statements, the only useful element in these ‘debates’ is that the entire candidate field is forced to answer the same questions at the same time.

The current ‘debate’ format of both parties is a joke that does the voting public, and the candidates, a disservice. There are alternatives that are not being explored.

(For those unhappy about quoting Newt Gingrich, as a proponent of Practical Politics I’ll take insightful quotes from any source. )

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4 Responses to The Truth About Political Debates…By A Republican

  1. alrudder says:

    Maybe these “Debates” don’t meet the Oxford Dictionary definition but they are important. They are a dramatization of the leadership style of each candidate, not the substance of the platforms.
    People can study the policies. But “debates” are the best thing we have, an unscripted way to see who these people really are.

  2. mbk says:

    alrudder-I agree that these pseudo-debates are better than nothing, but with the number of people “debating” , and the inclination of the press not to ask deep questions, it’s too easy for the candidates to stick to scripted sound-bytes and their consultant-created personas.

  3. Darrell Prows says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to have too many dog and pony shows. Those who want to tune in do, and those who don’t don’t. But at least it takes away the excuse of saying “I didn’t have an opportunity to learn about the candidates”.

  4. Stuart ONeill says:

    While I agree that these forums are better than nothing, it is possible to have real debates on the Net if not on TV.

    These would be live debates with longer reponse times. If you think you can tell anything about the leadership styles you must first give them the time to discuss ‘goverance’.