Debating Context

Last night, Hillary Clinton spoke for… 31:05 at the Democratic debate.  Her chief rival, Bernie Sanders, used the microphone for 28:05- a relatively equal allotment.  The longest sustained answers were all under 2:00 minutes in duration.  The choppy, uneven questioning allowed for well rehearsed, scripted answers that amounted to little more than regurgitated talking points.

Real debates are history

Real debates are history

On August 27, 1858- Abraham Lincoln stood before nearly… 12,000 spectators in Freeport, Illinois.  For just under 60 minutes he lambasted the most powerful man in Congress- pushing the mighty Stephen Douglas nearly to his breaking point.  The Freeport debate is considered the finest of the seven Lincoln/Douglas debates.  Lincoln wryly exposing the inconsistencies in his opponent’s views- Douglas’ demagoguery pushed to new levels over 90 minutes as he counter-punched desperately.  The answers Douglas offered, known as the Freeport Doctrine, doomed his 1860 Presidential hopes.

Policy in under a minute- CNN style

Policy in under a minute- CNN style

Nothing like this is possible in politics today… because of the nature of media and the expectations of the viewing public.  In all honesty, no declared candidate in 2015 could muster the intellectual fortitude to debate at this level.  It would be interesting to watch, but do the American people deserve it?

 

 

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