Debates Aren’t Debates

I sat down and watched some of the Democrat debate last night, but honestly I didn’t make it too far through it before I turned it off, since it was just aggravating me more than anything else. It didn’t work on so many levels, that I decided it warranted a blog post.

Allow me to elucidate.

For one thing, there are simply too many candidates for any real debate to work properly on the scale they’re trying to do it. Ideally, a debate would show me the merits and weaknesses of the different sides of the argument being debated. And there were certainly different sides being presented. Around healthcare, for example, there seemed to be different plans presented, as well as different ways to pay for those plans. Great! Except the entire thing stayed at a surface level, with no real arguments presented other than “that one will cost too much” and “that one doesn’t cover enough people.”

When there are ten people up on stage and all ten of them need to get air time, you end up with nothing more than a prolonged squabble. It’s all the worst parts of committee work, with none of the advantages. It wasn’t like that group of people were coming together with a goal of Coming Up With the Best Healthcare Plan. Rather, they were together to talk about why their own plan was the best and all the other plans stunk.

Which leads me to my second issue. Having a substantive conversation isn’t possible with that many people. I think you’d be able to pull it off with three people. Four is already stretching it. Ten is a joke. And to have twenty, split across two nights . . . Please. If they want to have so many different candidates, maybe they could arrange it in some sort of a March Madness Debate Challenge format, where they go head to head, and America gets to call in and vote for their favorite. (Honestly, the only drawback with that plan is how to restrict it so just registered Democrats get to vote, and limit it to one vote per person. While the thought of phone line voting makes me cringe, I don’t think it would be any worse that what they had going on up there last night, and I can think of many ways it would be better.)

Third, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the way debates are so tied into TV channels now. CNN designed the whole thing to catch eyeballs. It was set up like some sort of MMA or boxing match. I don’t think the questions were really designed to give us a good look at the different policies and thoughts being debated. They were designed to make as many confrontations as possible, with each candidate hoping to score some sound bites later on.

Meanwhile, all of this is going on while all I really care about is anyone but Trump becoming President. The only person I saw coming out as a winner last night was Trump. The more his opponents bicker and tear down each other, the less he has to do come next year. Ugh.

So count me out of the debates for now. All pomp, no substance. Once the field has been whittled down some, maybe I’ll give them another go.


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