Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Have Presidential Debates Changed Over Time?

Overtime, there have been obvious changes in the Presidential debates.  However, there are specific debates that may have paved the way for change in the debates.  For example, when looking at the very first Presidential debate between Lincoln and Douglas, it is obvious that there were no televisions view such debates.  What transpired in the debate included twenty-one hours of debate in Illinois broken up into seven separate debates.  Historically, these debates led to Lincoln becoming President (  The next major election debate that would change the way elections took place was the Kennedy/Nixon debates in 1960.  These debates though important like every other debates, were special because they were the first televised debates.  See the following clip.

These debates were the nation's first opportunity to see the candidates go at it from all across the nation.  However, while informative, and pioneering in elections, did the televising of these debates change the way America votes for its candidates?  Essentially, now that the country is able to see these debates from every state on public television, it has enabled viewers to look past the issues and see into the personality of the candidates.  With that being said, perhaps the televising of debates has enabled Americans to make their choices based on a larger percentage of personality approval and a less percentage of policy platform approval than before.  In viewing several debates since the first televised debates, it appears to me that there has been a slight shift of candidates attacking opposing policies to candidates attacking the character of opposing candidates.  See the following video.  

Perhaps the debates have always been this way on some level or another, but now that the mass media is so powerful, we are able to see it.  However, in viewing the two debates, I believe there is a very transparent difference in the body language, attitudes, and overall agenda of the debates.  Thus, my opinion that while the media has evolved, election debates have evolved with it and there has been a shift.  I urge voters to vote for sure.  However, I urge viewers to attempt to vote less according to character flaws or qualities and more so about the policies.  

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