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. Continue reading →