Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Chicken/Egg of Dumbed Down Debates

Every Presidential election cycle when its time for the debates, there are always some who complain how they lack substance with with issues of non-consequence taking front and center over dealing with issues that matter, etc..etc..

And of course we agree..

But really who is the blame..  the candidates and by extension, the handlers and those who prep them behind the scenes?   Or the masses that watch and ultimately vote?
For example, let's pretend the last debate was solely about issues, truth be told most would become confused and/or bored very quickly because no one, including even us want to hear endless pontification on how he or she is going to alter the tax code

'First we have to look at capital gains and establish a threshold with maybe a 3-5% differential based on valuation of property and whether said home is sold as primary or secondary residence and apply based on alteration of code, a 10% reduction if square footage of property is less than..'

Yawnnnn...
The debates are not set up for you or we to actually learn anything or make informed choices..  If they were, the Libertarian candidate and other 3rd parties would have representation on stage

But they don't and its intentional

It used to be the League of Women Voters ran the debates but after 1992, both scummy political parties felt Ross Perot's inclusion was either a detriment or a nuisance so the two parties secretly wrestled control away from the League, then set up agreed rules where the bar was so high for a 3rd candidate, it was nearly impossible to be allowed to attend

You the American people are presented with very limited choices..  A or B and there's never any consideration presented for an option C or D..
And let's take a moment to look at how these debates are structured.  We'll use that farce Sunday night as the example..

There are not one but Two moderators for a debate where the focus is supposed to be on questions and concerns from undecided voters both there in person and via social media who submitted questions

The extremely ugly woman Martha Raddatz who's former husband worked on Obama's 2008 campaign and was rewarded by being chosen as head of the FCC stated the questions were seen that morning and the candidates had not seen them beforehand
Well someone had the power to decided Which questions were to be read and in what order and targeted to which candidate..

Was it Raddatz, who's current hubby sits on the Council of Foreign Affairs or was it Anderson Cooper who is a registered Democrat who was once part of the Clinton Global Initiative?  Or someone else

And why the Fuck would Trump ever allow either to be moderating a Presidential Debate?

But back to the real point of this posting..
So the structure was a question would be read by the undecided voter or by moderator if submitted via Facebook, Twitter, etc.. and then the moderator would reserve the right to ask endless follow-ups which candidates were given 2 minutes to respond and maybe 1 minute follow up..

This may seem like there is structure but there is not

A candidate can deviate from the question or avoid it outright and no punishment is given..  Same for going over the allotted time or using the time given to answer the present question to go back and continue answering the previous question
And quite honestly 2 minutes is not enough time to get one's thoughts across unless the entire debate is focused on one central issue.   But when the goal is to cover as many topics as possible (unless it involves calling women 'pussies' or not releasing tax returns, then the debate gets very specific and for long duration) 120 seconds to speak is not enough

You at home try speaking for 2 minutes as to why something or someone is important to you or what you would do if you were President on any issue where you were required to give some specifics

Admittedly even though we here at A&G support Trump, it does get extremely annoying when he constantly uses the word 'disaster' to describe everything from Obama to the state of the nation

On the other hand, we can see it has become forced shorthand in a venue where there's no time to really present any substance when discussing issues
Because debates are intentionally set up to not really get to the meat of an issue and people have such abysmal attention spans, meaningless words like 'disaster' or 'change' (Obama in 2008) are needed to communicate with people so genuinely stupid that 15 months into the Presidential election and they still are undecided and just learning what the candidates stand for..

Let's say for pretend, the debates were set up as a venue where candidates could give cohesive, detailed answers to the questions presented and allow the audience to actually be informed..

So how would a debate like that be structured?
First the debate itself would need to be very topic specific meaning no interjections of ISIS or Iran in a debate on how to fix the economy and get people working again..

And it also means absolutely no questions by moderators or allowing any candidate to interject opinions on 'pussy', alleged xenophobia or willful destruction of 33,000 emails unless it specifically pertains to that debate topic

So the moderator has his/her questions and begins..  Ideally each candidate has 3-4 minutes then the other equal time to respond, and then another 3-4 minutes for each candidate to follow up including direct interaction with the other..

The moderator is mainly a time keeper and when a candidate is straying, to bluntly say 'answer the question'.
In a perfect world, the moderator also acts like a boxing referee and assesses penalties..  Someone keeps going over their time and he/she deducts time from that person in future questions;  Someone chooses not to answer or inject irrelevance, that person loses the chance to answer first or their mic is cut off..

Since its not the moderator who controls the debate but the candidates and political parties, this never happens

Everyone knows debates are mainly for show and people judge candidates not on what they say but how they speak and stand and if someone gives a fucking' stupid grin or grimace every time they're accused of being corrupt or how often someone breathes hard through their nostrils..
Back in 1960, those who listened to the debate between JFK and Nixon found the Republican to be the clear winner for he was far more knowledgeable and spoke in greater specifics..

Those who watched on TV felt JFK won the debate because he was younger, better looking and Nixon looked sweaty & pasty since he had declined make-up prior

In 1980, Reagan and Carter went at it 3 times..  So what do people remember 36 years later after 270 minutes of point-counterpoint?

"Well... There you go again..."
How about the 1992 debates with Bush Sr, Clinton and Ross Perot?

People remember two things - Bush looking at his watch as if he had other places he needed to be and Perot crying out "Can I finish?!"

And what do people remember if anything about the 2000 debates between W. Bush and Gore?

Gore's constant sighing..

So that's the intellectual bar of most voters in how they choose candidates to support..
Now compare modern Presidential debates with the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 where the two were running for Senator to represent Illinois..

The format for each debate was where one candidate spoke for 60 minutes uninterrupted, then the other candidate spoke for 90 minutes without disruption.  Then the first candidate was allowed a 30-minute "rejoinder."  The candidates held 7 debates like this and alternated speaking first

Back then these debates were looked upon with great excitement as both informative and good entertainment..  The day would usually start with a great big picnic full of food and music and then the large audience would eagerly and quietly listen to every word

This gave people an opportunity to really know the candidates and allow for thought and reflection of what was said..
Try that today and millions of Americans would be changing channels or looking down at their phones before the introduction was completed

Everything now is fast food quickie soundbites, one-liners and gotcha moments

Are we a dumbed down society because of shit like these Presidential debates or are they so dumbed down because they needed to be tailored to an audience that shows it is not capable of substance?

One of those chicken/egg things.