Political fights aren’t actually Debates…

 

Tis the season of the political “debate”… every time it rolls around it makes me want to pull my ears over my head until after the election… it’s almost as bad as when someone calls “Mill”, “MillS”…or claims Mill thought that utilitarianism is “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”… grrr…

For those of you joining late, I have some experience with academic debate… as in, many years of coaching, judging and organizing a national debate tournament.  What politicians do isn’t anything close to a real debate.

Today I was driving and listening to NPR cover a “debate” at the state fair between a couple of MN Congressional candidates.  Every once in a while they would actually answer the points made by their opponent — and I was startled to realize that they were doing it, they ALMOST had a debate… almost.

The thing is, in an actual debate, opponents respond to one another — we call it “clash” and it’s a good thing.  When one candidate says “they want to raise your taxes” and the other says, “they hate women” in response, there is no clash.  If “they want to raise your taxes” were met with “no we don’t” or “we need to raise taxes to do this good thing”… then there’s clash.

When one candidate throws out a laundry list of allegations against the other one and the response is an unrelated laundry list of allegations in return, you have no clash.  Today, Keith Ellison actually selected a few points his opponent raised to answer… I cheered so hard I nearly rear-ended someone… issue selection, YEA!!!

Televised “debates” are the worst — I vividly recall yelling at Sara Palin to answer the f-ing question… in debate lingo, she was seriously non-topical.  She was also non-responsive to Joe Biden’s points, but that kind of shoddy argumentation goes both ways.  Frankly, I had to wonder if she understood the questions… then again, she can see Russia from her house… (which she didn’t say… but still).

So, call them what you will, but don’t call them “debates”, please…

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