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WANTED (Dead or Alive): Modern Political Debate

October 23, 2007

While I can’t say that I was overly thrilled with or impressed by Rick Tyler’s discussion, I was intrigued by what he had to say about political debate reform. But before I delve into his propositions, let me begin by affirming my overwhelming dislike for the modern concept of a political debate. Every time I sit down to watch a debate (which is rare, sporadic, and generally only within a month of an election), I find that by the end of the night I’m just as disappointed as I’d expected. Rarely, if ever, do I gain insight into a candidate’s character, or learn something about them that I couldn’t have read, verbatim, from their campaign website. Usually each candidate is allowed so many seconds to respond to a carefully crafted and premeditated question that doesn’t come from their opponent, but rather, from an unaffiliated third party. Is this crazy, or am I?? I want to see the candidates and the candidates alone conversing with each other, asking the tough questions, and being capable of coming up with the clever answers on the spot. Leave the mediator at home, please. Cut the strict time limits and the tedious rules. I want to see a raw presentation of the person who could potentially be the next “leader of the free world,” (as Tyler referred to it through thinly veiled conservativism).

This brings me to Tyler’s theory of debate reform. Though he devoted a shockingly small portion of his speech to this topic (the drawings on the blackboard didn’t suffice for me), I thought he made some valid points. First of all, I agree, to an extent, that political debate between members of the same party can seem redundant and overtly liberal or conservative. I do not, however, think that this type of debate should be eliminated from the campaign process altogether. I think that this type of debate is fundamental and crucial for each party in determining who is best suited for the race, but I think there is definitely room for reform. Tyler went on to suggest that political debate should consist of one candidate from each party, on a stage, partaking in a healthy, unscripted, unsupervised debate. I definitely agree with this theory, and I look forward to the day that this debate takes place. However, I want to add to this dream and suggest that every candidate, and yes that includes candidates of the somewhat taboo parties such as the Libertarian or Green Party, be a participant in our nation’s notorious prime time debates. I think that all candidates, regardless of the status of their membership in mainstream parties, are deserving of our country’s attention and time. Needless to say, I hope to see in 2008 a variety of candidates in the debate scene, and with any luck, a lot less of the unnecessary mediator.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. LexLaura permalink
    October 26, 2007 3:33 am

    I agree that as a speaker, Rick Tyler did make some valid points, but he was not the type of speaker that would get standing ovations in our class. I too think that his ideas about smaller debates between opposite parties now would be helpful, but I also think that including third party candidates is a great way to ensure that some of the crazy rules of the debates today do not become a right vs. left issue.
    However, in defense of Rick Tyler and some of the ways that he answered questions in class, I do think that he answered questions, saying what he believed. And he did try to sidestep ideas like gay rights, but in a class at American University, where Rove had students pounding on his car, I can imagine why a representative of Newt would want to sidestep a few issues that might cause dissention.
    And as a special note to Professor Walker, in general, Baby Boomers are spoiled. Hello! We are in America. We’re all spoiled. And plus, if the baby boomers are spoiled, do you know what that makes all of us millennials? That’s right. Even more spoiled.

  2. JillianEmery permalink
    October 26, 2007 3:44 am

    I completely agree that the structure of the Presidential debates needs to be reformed. Prior to the primary elections, it can be hard to get a sense of the candidate’s true character and political passions, since they’re still trying to “sell” their image. If we had a debate between the parties before the primaries, I think the public can get a better sense of what each candidate is actually about. I also agree that all parties should be involved and every candidate should have equal participation. Without the presence of a mediator, it will be an opportunity for the candidates to be honest, open, and unrestricted to the issues they want to address. I think this idea does seem a little far-fetched, however; I encourage Rick Tyler to continue to fight to reform the very media-based and “restricted” debates.

  3. amurph27 permalink
    October 26, 2007 1:11 pm

    Lets start my comment by letting everyone know I’m not politically savvy, however, Rick Tyler assured me that I’m normal because only a really small population is. Anyways I think that political debate reform is a must. Just because I’m not politically savvy doesn’t mean I don’t want to be informed on who will be running my country. I think debate reform will be useful in keeping the average American involved and educated about what is going on with the candidates. A different style of debate would (hopefully) be able to show the candidates true colors and also allow then to answer for themselves instead of having a prepared speech. I think it is important to incorporate this type of debate in every step up to the election. In the beginning republicans should be debating republicans as well as other parties and when it comes down to the nitty gritty I want to feel like I really know the person that I’m going to be electing into office.

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