The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Primary debates: what’s the endgame?

Though this year’s election will be the first one for which I’ll actually be of age to vote, I still remember a lot about elections long past.

I remember in 2000 when we didn’t know who actually won for over a month after Election Day. I remember in 2004 when Howard Dean sunk his campaign after overzealously shouting “Byaa!” at one of his campaign rallies (though my memory there was also aided by the Dave Chappelle sketch that followed the incident).

I remember Sarah Palin telling Katie Couric in 2008 that she “could see Russia from [her] house.”

However, if there’s one thing that really sticks out in my mind about these past elections, it’s that there were never nearly this many debates during primary season. Or at least it certainly didn’t feel that way.

During the 2008 election season, Republicans held 21 debates between May 3, 2007 and February 2, 2008.

I suppose part of the reason why the debates stopped in February was that the candidates knew by that point that none of them were going to beat John McCain and so he was left unopposed earlier on during the race (Mitt Romney only wishes something like that would happen at this point for him).

This election season, Republicans have held 18 primary debates and at least five more are planned.

Honestly, there have been so many televised debates at this point that I can hardly bring myself to even care what happens.

In fact, I don’t even need to watch them anymore; I already know exactly what’s going to happen.

Ron Paul is going to make some comment about decreasing our military presence across the country. Rick Santorum will call out Romney and Newt Gingrich for supporting versions of “Obamacare” in the past. Romney might bring up how Gingrich was forced out of the House in disgrace after only four years as speaker. And, inevitably, all four will play variations on the tune of “Obama is running our country into the ground.”

I really have to wonder what these debates are even accomplishing anymore. All of the candidates still have the same talking points that they’ve been repeating since they announced their candidacies. They’re hardly contributing anything new to the dialogue.

Sure, new controversies might come up like Romney’s tax records or Gingrich’s past marital problems, but hardly any of these have to do with actual policies (domestic, foreign, or otherwise).

More importantly, when the goals of the candidates are to win votes in individual states, how is a nationally televised debate really going to help them?

Santorum didn’t win Iowa because of his stellar presence in the debates. The only reason the moderators even started paying attention to him was because he won Iowa, and his success there can largely be attributed to going county to county holding town hall rallies and asking for people’s votes.

Televised debates make sense when they’re between two presidential candidates of opposing parties who are competing on a national stage. At this point in the game, the national presence really doesn’t do a lot of these

Republican candidates a world of good when their goal is to win over the voters of particular states.

Moreover, half the time these broadcasts can hardly be called debates; they might be better titled “Who can say the most outrageous political one-liner tonight?”

These debates might create a lot of attention for the candidates, but oftentimes it’s really not the kind they need.

For me, it seems much more important to have debates between Obama and whoever the GOP candidate ends up being.

After all, they’ll be the ones in the national election that actually matters, right?

Brandon is a sophomore majoring in English.  

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