Candidate debates: a boil on the butt of democracy

I’m not a believer in debates as currently constituted. They remind you of nothing more than the midway at an old time county fair where barkers are drawing you in to see the two-headed calf, the bearded lady, and the hootchie-cootchie show.


Debates have two purposes. The first is to provide viewers the the hosting network and readers to media that cover the debates. Today the media is full of coverage of who did what to who and candidate answers are being ‘Fact Checked’ by the media. This ‘Fact Checking’ is nothing more than free opposition research. The second is to provide a vehicle for preening media personalities. Last night 32% of the debate was used by Fox New personalities to burnish their personal brand. To put this in perspective, if you watched the debates you watched the blow-dried talent more than you did the top four candidates combined:

clevelanddebate11In fact, what we saw last night (and at every other candidate debate of the modern era) is a freak show. Candidates don’t debate issues. Candidates are hit with bizarre and nonsensical questions (Megyn Kelly has to take the prize for rank douchebaggery with her question prefaced by “You’ve called women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.'” Who cares? Really? And if you make your candidate selection on that basis you probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote or outside without an escort.) that are calculated to make them look bad or create responses that will serve as the basis for media stories. The aren’t asked about anything that is of significance. From the debate transcript. Number of questions about Planned Parenthood. 0. Number of questions on the Iran nuclear deal. 1. But it was phrased as a gotcha by Bret Baier: If this deal is undone, what then? Number of questions on unemployment. 0. Number of questions on trade. 0.


There was less substance to the questions in this debate than one finds in the typical Miss State Ag Fair beauty pageant.

As my colleague, Neil Stevens, notes. Debates do matter. Unfortunately, they do not matter in a way that helps the GOP or any of the candidates or even the American political process. Was the 2012 field really stronger because Rick Perry was recovering from back surgery? When was the last time you really learned something so extraordinary about a candidate’s views that you were compelled to vote for or against them based on an answer to a debate question?

These debates are not only not helpful they are actually demeaning to the political process. Yet election after election the RNC goes along with this idiocy. They need to either end or they need to be removed from network media sponsorship so we learn something of use about candidate vision rather than feeding media egos.



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