Everybody loves a good debate. Especially a political debate. While I think most people pose as somewhat knowledgable, or at least able to understand and maybe even speak to most issues, I think we all know approximately one-third of what we think we know. The math works like this…….If someone thinks they know 40% of what’s going on, then I divide that number by 3 (or 3.3333333 til infinity if you really want to be accurate), and I come up with really only knowing about 13% of what’s going on. Just for fun, divide that number by 3 again and it gives you a number just over 4%, and that’s what I think the average amount of people really know about politics. I fall into that category as well.
When the debates come on, people come out of the woodwork to watch. This is a way to sum up the last 4 years into a 2 hour TV program, which is right up the alley of people who don’t like to pay close attention to politics throughout the year. All registered voters have a decision to make, and at some point I think we all feel guilty about the fact that we live in a free country and should really make use of that freedom by using our vote. If you weren’t paying attention to politics, watching the televised debate is equivalent to cramming for a final exam in a class that you didn’t really pay attention to all semester. If we had a book to read in high school, we were all searching for the CliffsNotes version, so we could zip through it and just get the important parts.
As a Canadian, I like to watch the Canadian party leaders debate, because I have to vote for one of these guys. As a Canadian, I like to watch the American party leaders debate, because who doesn’t love the drama?
Is the Presidential Debate really important or not? I think most Americans are either Democrats or Republicans regardless of who the leader is. I don’t think they watch the debate to decide who to vote for, but cheer for the guy that they are going to vote for. For those Americans that are undecided, what can you really learn from watching the debate anyways?? To me, a debate is no reflection on whether or not someone can do a job, as much as it’s a reflection on whether or not one guy can prove the other guy is an asshole. I could spend hours telling people why they suck (and do so every morning on thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com….. PLUG!!!), but that doesn’t mean I’m any better than them. It just means I’m a more proactive hater! I think it’s also a contest to see who can come up with more positive soundbites, while also limiting soundbites that can be used against them in future television commercials.
I think the advantage always goes to the challenger. You can easily prove that a President is terrible at his job in 2 hours by listing off every mistake he’s made for the last 4 years. How do you prove that a guy with no track record in that position sucks? You can’t. You almost just have to let him have a crack at it, and then in 4 years some other guy can come along and talk about how bad he was. If you said he sucked right now, you’d just be speculating.
When I say 4 years I also use that term very loosely, because I think they only do their jobs for 3 years, and then spend the last year trying to convince people to give them another 4 years. When you consider that it probably takes a good 6 months to a year to actually get good at their jobs (any tough job has a learning curve), I would say that these leaders really only do their jobs about half the time.
Just so it doesn’t seem as if I’m ganging up on American politics. I will poke fun at the Canadian debates too. We have at least 3 political parties who have enough support that they are able to participate in the debates. Sometimes 4. The 4th is from Quebec, and their main political platform, is to take care of Quebec, and have them separate from the rest of Canada. WE ALLOW THEM TO DO THIS! The debates are chaos. 3 leaders is too many to begin with, but then when you add another who doesn’t care about 75% of the country, it’s madness. Americans will probably find this hilarious, and I don’t blame them.
To summarize, we have a couple of countries here in North America that rely heavily on televised leader debates. The people who know about politics get to learn more. The people who don’t know about politics get to make a quick judgement, so they can utilize their vote. The people who think they know about politics, but actually know very little (which is most of us), get the opportunity to learn a little information, and make it seem like a lot of information while having our own informal debates with friends, family, and co-workers. It’s a win for everyone!