On the Presidential Debates

So we’re barely into February and we’ve had ohhhh a gagillion debates. Okay not that many but it’s a lot. The total is actually 13, not including town halls. And I’ve watched as many as I can. Admittedly, I’ve watched more of the republican debates because there have been more and they’ve been at times that I could watch. The democratic debates have largely been on weekends, and with only three candidates until this week running, they are not nearly as exciting. Anyway, after watching the debates as of lately I have noticed some major differences between the two parties and a lot of the candidates. Here are my thoughts:

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Mostly everyone is passionate. I would say that nearly every candidate has shown tons of passion while debating – a few show it more than others – but with the heated discussions happening, notably between front runners, you can see they want it. I really saw it in the democratic debate with Hillary and Bernie almost yelling about what they will do if elected president. Recently Hillary was criticized for yelling, which is completely unfair since I think most of the candidates have yelled at some point in the campaign, not necessarily at a debate, but at rallies across the country. This is an important election and I’m glad to see the passion is there.

Dems are more humble. Republicans like to one up each other. In last week’s democratic debate, Bernie Sanders admitted that Hillary Clinton is more experienced when it comes to foreign policy, because she is. But I haven’t heard one republican candidate say “(insert name) has more experience on (insert issue),” yet. They are usually one upping each other or pointing out that they are better than Hillary. I think the candidates should point out their differences in opinion, but no doubt that because of past experiences, some people do have more knowledge/experience with one thing or another. It’s not bad to admit that. Heck, in every job interview you get that “what are your weaknesses?” question. Yes, we all want a president that is strong, but no one is perfect.

Dems are focusing on issues, Republicans on whose better/can beat HRC. I will start off this one by saying that with only 2-3 candidates the democrats can focus on the issues more, that’s how they differentiate themselves to the primary voters. The republicans on the other hand are differentiating themselves from a HUGE (or YUUUUGE) spread of people. This means more attacks on the other candidates in their party, but I’ve also noticed that it also means a lot of them saying “I am the best to beat Hillary.” Which, okay, valid point as she is the presumptive nominee, but at the end of the day as a voter – don’t you want to know WHAT someone will do to solve/tackle a problem? What’s your plan? A plan is not “I won’t do what that person would do.”  There have been moments in republican debates where candidates have shared highlights of their plans, but I’d love to see more of that, and or the debate moderators to try to get the candidates to talk about it more, which I know is easier said than done. At the end of the day, I vote on who I think has a better plan, not who is more likely to beat the other party. I only hope other voters do the same.

No one really answers the question. It doesn’t matter the party affiliation but everyone dodges questions. They go back to previous questions. They pivot to a different topic. I find this super annoying, especially when it is on important issues like national security, the economy, or healthcare. Moderators try to get them to answer but usually with little luck.

There aren’t enough questions about women’s healthcare. 2015 saw a lot of legislation, smear campaigns, and talk of women’s healthcare options – particularly related to Planned Parenthood. Full disclosure: I support Planned Parenthood and the work that they do. That being said, to me, it’s important to know what priorities these candidates place on access to healthcare – including birth control. There needs to be a robust discussion on it and it’s been awhile since I’ve seen/heard one on the debate stage. I’d also love to see discussions on Paid Family Leave and Equal Pay for women. These issues do matter and should be highlighted on the national stage more often.

No one likes to follow the debate rules. Everyone wants more time to talk, particularly on the republican stage where candidates are vying against so many other people. They often ignore buzzers, interrupt moderators, and question when they get to rebut something. I am sure that some of the rules get complicated and a lot is left up to the moderators to keep the debate moving and not last all night, but when that buzzer sounds – wrap it up. In the latest democratic debate I’m not sure what the time indicator was beyond the moderators saying “thank you” pretty softly. No this doesn’t have a huge impact on who to vote for by any means but it makes a difference in the experience, and how much you see/hear from others. If all I see of one candidate is them fighting for more time and being rude to the moderators, it does leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

We still have a lot of debates to go. Primary season is under way for awhile still and the conventions are not until the summer, although by then it’ll hopefully be clear who each party will be nominating, so we’ve got a ways to go. It’ll be interesting to see how each party’s debates change as the weeks and months go by. And then, once we reach the general election cycle last summer/early fall, we will have debates between the two parties. If you want to make your debate watching more fun – check out my post for NextGen MilSpouse, which even features a game.

Are you watching the debates? What’s stood out to you so far?

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