This truth bears repeating: Debates staged by television interests are a terrible way for voters to learn about candidates for office. After two nights of this failed experiment, I have learned:
- No candidate has sufficient time to make and develop a point fully.
- A candidate with an aggressive personality and style can dominate discussion to the detriment of everyone else, particularly the voter who’s watching.
- Several candidates talking at once, frantically trying to be heard, accomplishes only noise and frustration.
- The ability to prevail in such an environment is not my idea of a what qualifies someone to hold public office.
- Neither is the ability to single out another candidate for ridicule.
If not these unwieldy cattle-call debates, what is a better way to know the candidates and their position and begin to judge their qualifications for office?
For starters, I believe in doing my own research by reading what the candidate himself or herself says, and by searching for unbiased, factual accounts of his or her statements, activities and history. We all should take the time and effort. What could be more important?
As for public displays, I am impressed with the authenticity of what we learn in what has become known as the town meeting format, so long as audience members — voters like you and me — are given plenty of opportunity to ask questions and express their concerns, and the candidate has ample time to respond.
More of this and less of the hyped televised circuses we call debates would be a significant improvement in the way we choose our candidates. While I’m waiting for this to happen, I’ll continue my own search for factual information that I can trust.
Let’s all do that.