The Clare Spark Blog

December 21, 2015

“Debates” as pseudo-events with pseudo-moderators

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:42 pm
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gladiatorsI find the recent debates in both parties infuriating. Why are they called debates, when they are nothing but pseudo-events and have nothing to do with the traditional meaning of a debate, which is a disciplined, precise, and detailed back and forth on a narrowly focused policy topic?

In US history, the debates between opposing individuals running for office, or, earlier, ratification of the Constitution, were (at times) occasions for public education, as were religious sermons in colonial New England. But in the age of the Great Dumbing Down, these much commented-upon current circuses/boxing matches offer nothing new to cogitate upon, or even to refine the details of a proposed social policy.

Nor are these “debates” even competently moderated. The candidates interrupt each other and take charge of the discourse, the bloodier the better. One might compare our political debates with gladiatorial combat, often egged on by “moderators” with an agenda more directed to obfuscation, the drawing of blood, and slogans than to public enlightenment. Is anyone paying attention to the time limits, supposedly agreed upon by the participants? To me, as observer, this creates anxiety, as the press (including cable  news) elevate these performances as some kind of revelation of character, and as examples of rational discourse in the interest of public appreciation of the fine points of public policy. Who are the performers—candidates and moderators are all acting.

No wonder many Americans are disgusted by political and media establishments, and are mobbishly attracted to populist demagogues. Those social theorists who have deplored the rise of the “spectacle” are correct. (

Thumbs down on our contemporary political combat.





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