Will Any of The 2012 Presidential Debates Be A “Real Debate”?

Will there be debate on the "hot topics"?

Looking ahead to the 2012 Presidential Debates
Looking ahead to the 2012 Presidential Debates | Source

Do you have a "hot topic" you want to hear debated?

When you understand how this year’s presidential debates are structured, and how their number is determined, you will have to wonder why they are always considered significant.

Oh, yes there have been “goofs”, outright poor answers, and even some “skulduggery”, but the typical viewer seems to be drawn to those possibilities just as some race car viewers are drawn by the possibility of accidents.


Webster has defined debates as “A regulated discussion of a given proposition between two matched sides as a test of forensic ability.”

Without getting into why this “forensic” is not the same as criminal forensics, the key to note here is the phrase “given proposition”.

The famous Lincoln-Douglas debates had a “given proposition” in the sense that each of the seven two-hour debates in 1858 was a debate largely centered on the subject of slavery in the United States, even though the two candidates were concerned about their party’s gaining a majority in the Illinois Senate.

By contrast, it is unlikely that we will see seven “debates” with any “given proposition” held across the US (as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates were across Illinois), and it is likely that each of these modern “debates” will consist of questions or topics chosen by one or more moderators calling for “spontaneous” answers from both candidates (or more, if any other candidates can qualify by the restrictive rules as to how a candidate becomes eligible to participate.)

Who set up those “restrictive rules”?

Not surprisingly, the two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans did.

They could be adjusted somewhat when the two major parties’ representatives meet shortly to decide on the number of “debates”, their locations, and the “restrictive rules” for 2012. But be assured of one thing, in making those decisions each party will be seeking whatever small advantage they can get from the “who, what, when, where, how, and why” of the perhaps overly important 2012 Presidential Debates.

The nine Lincoln-Douglas Debates (for in fact they had already presented their individual sides of the debate in two earlier towns prior to agreeing to the seven debates which followed) concentrated on the genuine “hot topic” of 1858 which was slavery.

2012’s “hot topics” prior to the Republican Convention in August and the following convention of the Democrats, are Unemployment and the National Debt.

If the 2012 “debates” were to meet Webster’s definition and mirror the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, at least one real debate would concern the proposition “How best to return as close as possible to full employment for America’s workers” and “How to bring down America’s National Debt”.

Indeed those questions supersede in importance the other “hot topics” of 2012, in part because they impact each other, and impact all the other “hot topics.” such as illegal immigration, foreign wars, the US trade imbalance, effective law enforcement, sub-standard education, medical costs, decaying infrastructure , undo influence from Super PACs and lobbyists, defense spending, homeland security, and all the rest.

Expect each major party to introduce into the 2012 “debates” distracting topics of far less significance to the country’s well-being such as we have already seen in whether stay-at-home mothers lack needed experience in salaried positions, who should be provided covered contraceptives, and what issues already before the Supreme Court may or may not be constitutional.

Looking to the 2012 Presidential Debates to determine who is best qualified to be America’s next president, would be like observing the next car race to see which car has the best engine! The election could be determined by what people see and hear during the broadcast “debates” but don’t expect to hear a Webster’s or Lincoln-Douglas style debate, or even a pair of major candidates displaying their “forensic” abilities


© 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.

History of the Presidential Debates

More by this Author


Comments 10 comments

Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I enjoyed your hub and now understand what a true debate is.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Rodric29: Thanks. There were several good links on this Hub and one or more may have been added after you commented. Thanks for the visit.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and interesting as far as the topic of debates goes. Since they won't have them broadcast here wonder if they'll be on YouTube and if it will be worth watching any of them.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Gypsy Rose Lee: Stay tuned and someone (me?) will let you know. They are always worth watching, if for no other reason than to protect yurself against the distortions of "the spin doctors" who try to put their candidates' "spin" on what they think you should take away from each debate.


wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 4 years ago from upstate, NY

Your right in that these debates major on the minors and are all about appearances! The unfortunate reality is that, due to the dumbing down effect of our education system in addition to a declining state of morality, this has created an more ignorant and amoral electorate. For this reason many poeple don't even know what are the important issues or even care to know. This is why poeple vote on who looks the best, who sounds like they care, or whose going to give me the most goodies from the public treasury!


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I missed the opportunity to See Romney in Tempe, right down the street from me. Joe Biden was here in the Phoenix area today! I had to work! AHHHHHHHH!


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Rodric29: Right now they can (one or the other) go where Romney goes, though Romney lately has been doing the same thing to them. Right now Romney is one against two, until he has chosen and ushered through a person to run with him. I bet he would like to choose Huntsman, but that would really be doubling up!


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

wba108@yahoo.com: It is called (rightly so) "buying votes". That is defined as "promising something for nothing." It is not calling on Americans to be prepared to sacrifice for the common good. It is all about "what's in it for me?" and "who is promising to give me the most?" The giveaways have put us in debt, massive debt. If that tactical charade works in this election, the future of the country is laid bare by greed and selfishness, not to mention bribery.


wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 4 years ago from upstate, NY

I think your on to something Perspycacious, you hit the nail on the head! Your quite correct in that there's a world of difference between sacrificing for the common good and redistributing wealth to buy votes!


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

wba108@yahoo.com: Thanks for the affirmation. This topic repeats today.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working