One Take on Technology and the Debates

TechCrunch has a timeline of when they believe technology started to kill serious presidential debates. It’s worth your time to read because there are a lot of good one liners.

As someone who normally is wildly optimistic about the impact of technology on democracy, presidential debates are one area in which innovation has yielded nothing but mindless drivel to the presence of civil society.

Before any of you old timers start in with “in my day…” rants on how good it used to be, take a look at when they claim the decline in serious political debate at the national level began. It’s far earlier than any of you remember.

Sebastian has his liquor. I have my wine glass. We’re ready for tonight’s debate.

5 thoughts on “One Take on Technology and the Debates”

  1. Can’t help but notice that the real rot is claimed to have started around the same time the progressives trashed K-12 education.

    If Why Johnny Can’t Read was published in 1955, should we be surprised that an intellectually emasculated polity wasn’t up for real debate in 1960.

    BTW, the “Nixon won on radio” factoid is useless; that entire meme is based on one survey, and only a small fraction of the respondents had only listened to the radio.

  2. Length — either duration or number of characters — says little about how intelligent a debate is. Truth can be out quickly, and nothing can be stretched a very, very long way. If you believe that either political party would neither be able nor willing to previacate for three or four hours without saying anything of true meaning, you have a better political class than I. And have managed to avoid the respective national conventions.

    ((The good old days weren’t exactly great, either. The well-known Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1860 election cut down turns to 60-30 and 90 minutes each, and while fascinating in retrospect are also filled with the same political habits we see today.))

    1. I realize that length doesn’t have to mean substance. However, I will say that the format last night of a minimum solid two minutes for each candidate on every question and response yielded more specifics from Romney than you would normally see in a presidential debate. Hell, it was long enough that even Obama had to get creative when he was refusing to answer the question on social security. Instead, he had to make up a new question and talk about the spirit and history of social security because he knew he had too much time to fill.

      1. Is the time limit not normal? The 2008 debates included at least two sets with two-minute turns, and it wasn’t that unusual a format at the time. 2004’s debates used a two minute versus 90 second rebuttal format, and that was the year that gave us the “Bush wearing wire” conspiracy idiocy.

        I don’t mean to be Socratic; I honestly don’t know what’s such a difference. But there’s a lot of place for causation and correlation to be confused, especially when looking at such demand-based changes

  3. We go through a longer and more drawn out process to pick America’s next Idol, or Top Model, or Talent….
    I submit that we need to swap the electoral college for the American Idol system: a 3 night a week TV show with each episode 3 hours long that runs for 4 months. ALL candidates from EVERY party or non-party can be heard with their take on the question of the night. After being voted off or through by the American people, we can move on to the next episode and slowly whittle down to the “candidate we actually WANT to win”.

Comments are closed.