Presidential debates play a huge role in the election process in the United States. Although they are attempted to be portrayed as an insight into a candidate’s ideas and policies, The First 2012 Presidential Campaign Debate: The Decline of Reason in Presidential Debates by Robert C. Rowland, he makes the claim that debates do not truly affect the outcome of an election. They may sway a few voters here and there, but in the end, what happens in the primaries will typically be what happens in the general election. Rowland states that for debates to be an effective measure of the potential of a candidate’s success, there needs to be previously set debate guidelines, similar to rubrics, that the candidates are scored off of.
I think this would be a great idea, especially in the debate culture we are experiencing during this election year. In the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spent a lot of their time arguing. In an era where we have more undecided voters than ever looking for the person to cast on their ballot, it is important that the candidates are given enough time to really showcase their ideas and give evidence to back the points they are making.
To me, debates are turning into a mere form of entertainment and an opportunity for high news ratings. The last debate was the most watched debate in all of history, even ranking higher in audiences than some Superbowls. 75% of the people in the United States claimed they were going to tune into the debates, and most of those were to see how Clinton and Trump acted towards each other, not to hear them explain their ideas and platforms.
Assessing Presidential Character explains the correlation between gaffes and candidate response styles are used the most in social judgment during elections. Potential voters are always looking to find flaws in the character of an opposing candidate, as we have greatly seen during this election from both parties. It is important to elect a good, wholesome person, but also one who has the best ideas and can move America into the strongest direction.
Debates are able to give us a glimpse into the character of the candidates. However, I wish that debates were seen as less of a contest and instead as more of an opportunity to get to know the person who will be leading our nation in the future. It’s important to not fall into the media’s trap of their favorite candidate, but to be educated on all of the topics and vote with one’s own mind.