Debating the importance of debates in the 2022 elections

Debating the importance of debates in the 2022 elections

(NewsNation) — The midterm elections are just around the corner, and for many candidates making their final push, the road to November includes the art of debate.

Our nation has a long and storied history of debate.

Looking back, moments of debate can make and sometimes break a campaign. There was a time when entire quotes from a debate became iconic.

The presidential debate between the then senator. John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon was televised nationally in black and white in 1960.

It is a moment in time when technology has changed the stage of debate.

“People criticized Nixon because he didn’t look very good,” said Sandra Pavelka, a professor of political science at Florida Gulf Coast University. “Obviously he wasn’t a Kennedy.”

Radio listeners thought Nixon won the debate, while viewers favored JFK.

But Pavelka says the debates are different now.

“They are more polarizing because they are not debating. They’re talking about each other,” she said.

Technology has also further changed the stage of debate. In the age of social media, debates were more about snapshots.

We remember the images of Donald Trump behind Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the fly in Vice President Mike Pence’s hair.

“Trump basically got behind her and hovered over her in a screaming way and I thought that was very intimidating,” Pavelka said.

Pavelka said the opportunity for voters to listen to candidates is still vitally important to our democracy.

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“We are the voters, we should have that right,” she said. “It really shouldn’t be up to candidates to say no. I think it’s really childish and childish not to debate the person you’re running against politically.”

NewsNation is exclusively live-streaming national debates of candidates in battle states, including the Texas Governor’s Debate, the Georgia Senate Candidate Debate, and the debate between Pennsylvania Senate Candidates John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

“Debate Night in America” will feature news and analysis from NewsNation’s team of seasoned journalists, including George Will and Chris Stirewalt.

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