Cake
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    • As a child, I had an opportunity to attend many debates which were neither political nor forensic contests.

      Most of them followed the following pattern:

      Day One

      Speaker A presented a 20 minute affirmative of the first proposition

      Speaker B presented a 20 minute rebuttal of the proposition

      Speaker A presented a second 20 minute affirmative of the same proposition

      Speaker B presented a second 20 minute rebuttal of the proposition

      Speaker A gave a five minute closing speech

      Speaker B gave a five minute closing Speech

      Day Two

      Speaker B presented a 20 minute affirmative of the second proposition

      Speaker A presented a 20 minute rebuttal of the proposition

      Speaker B presented a second 20 minute affirmative of the same proposition

      Speaker A presented a second 20 minute rebuttal of the proposition

      Speaker B gave a five minute closing speech

      Speaker A gave a five minute closing Speech

      I graduated from High School the year of the Carter-Ford presidential debate. I was not a fan of either candidate and I am not sure whether I watched that debate or not. Although there had been a Kennedy-Nixon debate, I was only 2 years old at the time.

      I'm guessing that the 1980 presidential debate may have been the first I watched, but I am not sure if I watched it or not. But when I did start watching Presidential debates I became very quickly disgusted. My disgust was not so much with the candidates nor with their policies but with both the format and the role played by the journalists.

      In all the debates that I had attended as a child, the moderators had only gotten involved if one of the two debaters felt that the other debater had in some manner violated the terms to which both debaters had agreed as to how the debate was to be conducted AND the rare discussions involving the moderators had been private and short. Not only had moderator involvement been rare, a consensus concerning the issue under discussion was almost always reached in less than 5 minutes.

      Many of the journalists involved in presidential debates produced in me a subjective reaction which might be unfair. I felt that some of them viewed the debate as an opportunity to further their own careers rather than as an opportunity to serve the American public by empowering the debate participants to present their case as to why they and their policies were the best choice for the American public.

      I did not watch the Joly 30th debate but I have gotten the impression that the television journalists once again were part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

      There are people who have years of experience functioning as moderators in the classic form of debating, I propose that we remove journalists from presidential debates and replace them with trained and experienced debate moderators.

      Yes, I know that I am being a Don Quixote but this has been a pet peeve of mine for probably over 30 years.

    • I did watch the debate last night and I have to say it was a painful experience. The use of the word debate to describe the quick question and answer format is unfortunate. I would love to see the current format scrappped - and I think your suggestion of using experienced debate moderators is huge.

    • If the DNC proposed replacing the debates with a 12 episode Survivor-style reality TV show starring the presidential candidates I guarantee every major network would be clamoring to carry it. And a lot more Americans would probably watch it. Sometimes I feel like that’s the direction we’re heading and it’s deeply upsetting.

    • Jim,

      I think that what you are describing is part of the incremental process of our society changing from an objective based perception of reality to a subjective based perception of reality.

      I am not referencing those aspects of our culture whose roots are over 150 years old but rather those aspects of our culture which have come into existence since the end of World War II. The adult generation of World War II was an objective "Sergeant Friday" based generation. But for the most part, those generations which have arisen since have been more experiential than rigorously logical. Most of the candidates for the Democratic party's nomination focus more on how people experience life than they do on long term logical strategies which tend to ignore the short-term tragedies.

      Classical debate is a objective, logic based activity which historically has not rewarded subjective argumentation. This may be the reason that in recent decades that form of debating has become less common than it was during the first 200 years of the United States.