Will Any of The 2012 Presidential Debates Be A “Real Debate”?
Will there be debate on the "hot topics"?
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.
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