Presidential debate of September 26, 2016 consisted of two people saying:
- I’m a very intelligent person, and I believe X.
- This other person believes Y.
- Therefore this other candidate is a complete moron.*
Please stop this behavior!
Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump: Please stop this childish behavior.
Media: Quit promoting and encouraging it. Tell me about positions and ideas, not drama and scandal.
Americans: Let’s start demanding some honesty and civility in politics. Aren’t you tired of trying to sort out the lies from fluff, bravado from truth?
My father was on a debate team in college, and they had rules about not making personal attacks, no name calling, and stick to the subject, and show respect to the other debater.
My father and mother argued during their long marriage, but early on they adopted the debate club civility rules for arguing. Those same rules were enforced during sibling arguments as well. “This is how grown-ups work through their arguments with civility and respect for each other and those around them.”
I wanted to listen to the presidential debate last night. I lasted 22 minutes. I took a 5 minute break and came back. That time I lasted less than 10 minutes.
Here is my suggestion for debate #2:
- Pick a topic or two: immigration, taxes, budget, energy…
- Candidates present their positions, complete with whys, hows, and wherefores.
- Time is then given to each candidate to say what led them to chose this position and not the other. Stick to the position—that is what you are debating.
- Act as though you are guests in my home, because you are.
No name-calling, smearing, innuendo, or disrespect.
That I will listen to.
That will be valuable to me in my decision on how I will vote in November.
That American debate is one I will be proud to say is part of the political process in my country.
*from a 2008 article by Brett and Kate McCay http://www.artofmanliness.com/2008/09/21/how-to-debate-politics-civilly/