I like to consider myself a fairly politically aware person. I moved to Washington DC to study politics; I read the news daily and discuss current events with friends fairly often. I actually find politics very interesting and think they’re generally worth my time to follow. Tonight is the fourth Republic debate of the season and, as I did with the last one, I have no plans to watch it. Here’s why.
1. They’re Not Actually Informative
Quite frankly, the debates are terrible as a source of information about the candidates’ platforms. The format all but ensures that candidates have the ability to give vague, soundbite-friendly answers that don’t dig into their meat of their platforms. Great moderators do their best to keep candidates on track and press them to answer questions they seek to avoid; most moderators are not great moderators.
But of course, the early debates aren’t really about digging into the issues. For the candidates, they’re 10 minutes of guaranteed screen time and a chance at snagging some headlines the next morning, which is something many of them don’t usually have–and something that even the leading candidates could use more of. For the networks, they mean good ratings. Everyone wins, even if the public doesn’t necessarily learn anything.
2. I Can Get This Information Elsewhere
I get a daily email with highlights from the previous day’s news, and I can almost guarantee that tomorrow’s subject line will be about the debate. All of the news sites in my RSS feed will have at least one article on tonight’s events; some will have multiple. If I leave Tweetdeck up tonight, I’ll get the highlights–the snarky ones, at least–as the debate unfolds. Tomorrow my Twitter feed will be full of even more news sites tweeting out thinkpieces about how Ben Carson represents the modern American conservative (or something). Should I so desire, I’m sure I can find a liveblog so that I can relive the night in text. Video clips will be up on YouTube. The best quips and one-liners will probably be turned into Vines. In short, I don’t actually need to tune into the live debate in order to know what happens.
3. I Don’t Really Care
Let’s be real here: There is no chance that I’m voting for anyone on that stage tonight. Even if I were a registered Republican, DC’s primary is the latest in the country, on June 14. The chance of there not being a presumptive nominee by that point is basically zero. Unless I move in the next few months, my opinion here is completely irrelevant.
What about the general election? To start with, it’s a full year away, so I highly doubt that anything said tonight would even stick in my mind long enough to be a factor. More importantly: There is absolutely no chance that I will be voting Republican come next November. (The only candidate who even comes close to being a realistic option for me is John Kasich and I’m honestly shocked that he’s still polling well enough to stay on the stage. He is the Jon Huntsman of this election cycle: relatively sane and thus doomed from the start.)
It would essentially take Hillary Clinton declaring that she plans to overthrow the Constitution and install herself as dictator to convince me not to vote Democrat in this election, and even then I would probably go third-party before I vote for a party that has demonstrated a remarkable disregard both for large swaths of the population and for basic science. I could go on, but you get the idea.
In essence, the only reason for me to watch the debate tonight is for the entertainment value–and I just started watching The West Wing on Netflix, so I think I’ll take a rain check on this one. It’ll be better for my blood pressure anyway.