The Relevance of Debates in today’s Society

December 6, 2023 By admin Off

The year was 1980. The place was Cleveland’s Music Hall. The event was must-see TV. It was the second presidential debate, featuring Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, and it birthed a number of memorable moments. The night drew a huge audience and undoubtedly helped Reagan oust Carter from office back when debates could do that. The purpose of presidential debates is to inform the voting public, of course. They’re meant to give candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves to America, to draw contrasts between each other, to tout their records, and to address their opponents. But these days, does anyone actually feel more informed after watching a debate? Far from Reagan’s effective “Are you better off?” question to Carter, today’s debates have devolved into a cheap calorie slugfest, an utterly useless cage match where I’d argue no one leaves a winner and voters are in no better position to decide who is the best candidate for president. The candidates are constantly talking over each other, ignoring the moderator’s questions and time warnings, and reaching for the lowest hanging fruit. As for the moderators, the questions seem increasingly designed to gotcha rather than enlighten. The third GOP primary debate, held last month, left a lot to be desired. It was perhaps former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s line to Vivek Ramaswamy — “You’re just scum” — which garnered the most attention, although I doubt most people could name the issue that prompted the line. And remember 2016’s GOP primary debate when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio implied that Trump’s small hands meant another body part was likely diminutive? Trump replied, “If they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee.” Super helpful for voters. 2020’s debate between Trump and then-former Vice President Joe Biden was another waste of time that journalists called “a hot mess” and a “dumpster fire.”