Letís not call them 'debates'

Friday, October 7, 2016

Debate has a long and honorable tradition in high schools and colleges throughout the country.

In an academic setting, a specific question is posed with one side taking an affirmative position and the other side taking the opposing position. Strict rules are enforced regarding allotted time for presentation and rebuttal.

Political debates between candidates are not so narrowly defined in subject matter, so cannot as easily operate under such strict rules. In fact, they could not be called debates as the term is used by high school and college forensic organizations.

However, the extent to which candidate debates become undisciplined arguments is partly the fault of organizers, but mostly the fault of the participants. Name calling and interrupting have been regular features of this yearís presidential and vice presidential debates.

Both sides are responsible, but Donald Trump was the primary culprit in the presidential debate and Tim Kaine was the primary culprit in the vice presidential debate.

To refer to these events as "debates" is a disservice to participants in the disciplined and enlightened events at educational institutions. Perhaps the political events should be called "Presidential Arguments."