I watched half of tonight’s Democratic debate and a little bit of yesterday’s. Here is how I think about these debates
They are where people say something without saying anything of substance. One of the candidates said that she should be the one because she listens to people and that’s how she gets things done. Another guy said that he should be the one because he can build coalition. No disrespect to either, but that’s a bit too light on details.
They are where folks set aside decency and talk over one another. Sometimes, there are some subtle attacks here and there.
They are where candidates from the same party talk about the same things just in different ways. It’s normal and fine since the issues must be popular and obvious. Plus, each candidate is given too little time to articulate on the details which essentially are the only differentiation points, well except if you speak some Spanish :D.
They are where candidates are asked to strip down issues that are complicated and full of nuances to one or two word answers in about 10 seconds. I mean, what is really the point of the “what is the most existential threat to us?” question?
They are where candidates juggle from one serious issue to another in a span of seconds. I saw them talk about healthcare in one second and then the effect of environmental policies, food policies on our health in another. Or the focus was switched from jobs to immigration. If you are given 30 seconds to speak or so, the more topics are covered, the less depth there will be.
I don’t really have a solution to this. Personally, I don’t find anything of substance from the candidates from all these debates. It may be helpful to some who might learn a thing or two about the folks running for the Presidency, especially the less known. But given that the ones who spoke the most during the events spoke for 10 minutes, how much can you know about a person in 10 minutes? How much can you learn about loaded issues in 10 minutes?
On the other hand, how many of us actually spend time on their websites to read pages of documents on their proposals? How many of us spend time at their rallies or town halls to ask for specific details? I don’t blame the politicians. They are trying to do their job and be as popular as possible to a tough crowd.