I have no use for the Obama and Romney presidential debates. The only way I could be tempted to watch them would be if some kind of BS-Beer-Bingo were involved. Perhaps drink a sip of beer with every lie or fallacy. Could one even enjoy the beer that way? Nah, if I want to see crazy antics and general silliness I will go for deliberate comedy.
The debates that get attention and support from the mainstream media are those that are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates2 (CPD), an organization created by the Republican and Democrat parties to control presidential debates. These debates appear to be no more than theater designed to make a viewer believe that the only tickets that matter are those of the Republican and Democratic parties, and that the race outcome is not yet determined. I would like to see candidates from all the parties engage in an actual debate of the major issues. The questions should be exposed in advance so that they can be judged prior to the execution of the debate. The debate should be scored where candidates are penalized when they use logical fallacies, evasions and lies. They should also be scored on how well each question was addressed in the time allotted. It would then be up to the viewer/listener to select the candidate that best aligns with their values, not by how funny a candidate is or how great he or she looks on TV.
What I see happening here is a game of divide et impera4 (divide and rule). The idea is that one may overpower an adversary by diluting/dividing the adversary’s strength. This technique has been used effectively for military, political, economic and other conquests dating back to at least ancient Rome. Imagine a ball-game with a home team and a visitors team. If the visitors team can start a quarrel between two of the home team players then the visitors team may gain an unfair advantage over the home team. The strength of the quarreling players would no longer be directed at the visitors team, thus the visitors team would be able to make better use of its strength against the home team.
I believe an interesting slight of hand takes place every election cycle where the conflict between liberty and statism5 is obscured and redirected into a contest between two statists. It is remarkably clever how the majority of the American population can be divided into two teams, a red team (Republicans) and a blue team (Democrats). It seems that the leadership of both teams/parties ensure that the nominees for important seats support a statist ideology. Combine this with the false dichotomy fallacy6 delivered by the main stream media and a statist presidency is virtually assured. A false dichotomy fallacy is used in this case to make one believe that there are only two tickets in the race for presidency, a ticket from the Democratic party and a ticket from the Republican party. The reality is that many other parties continue to exist in the US and support alternative Presidential tickets7. The fallacy is used to manipulate us into believing that if we do not vote for one of the two tickets mentioned above, that our vote will somehow be of less value. I often hear “If you don’t vote for ____, you are throwing away your vote!” The reality is that the only way I throw away my vote is if I cast it for somebody other than the candidate that most closely aligns with my values. Lets get real folks, the presidential election in the US is not decided by the popular vote anyway. We all remember the electoral college system, right? Vote your conscience, vote your values and let your voice be heard! After all, your voice is all you have in the Presidential election. Another element of Divide and Rule is to encourage useless spending to reduce funds available for useful spending. Save your energy and campaign contributions for other races, like the Senate, where your vote actually contributes to the outcome.
The way the divide and rule illusion seems to work is that the elements of liberty are divided between the two major parties. This way one party can not become the party of liberty and thus become a real threat to the status quo. An example would be that currently, social liberty is associated with the Democratic party, and fiscal liberty with the Republican party. I am oversimplifying a bit here because the Republican party also attracts people who support decentralized government and oppose the disarming of the people. The key is often in the statist implementation of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. The two major parties are then separated on emotional issues. Emotional issues are good to keep the focus away from issues than can be debated logically. They are what distract us from needs and interests common to both major parties, and to solutions that address the causes rather than the expression of our problems. They keep the people distracted and divided and thus weaker. Before the election is complete I expect to see many attempts to divide the American people, such as by race, religion, economic status, education or anything else that proves effective, but especially issues that produce a strong emotional response.
It is encouraging to see evidence of the statist paradigm braking down in the Republican party, but only time will tell if it can become the party of liberty. Ultimately the Republican liberty candidate, Ron Paul, did not win the nomination for President at the national convention. The irregularities, such as violations of parliamentary procedure, un-seating of delegates, and many others, discussed at length by Republican National Convention attendees, disenfranchised Ron Paul supporters but did not alter the likely predetermined outcome. This will hopefully motivate the people of future conventions to plan actual conventions rather than theatrical indoctrination ceremonies. Many folks reported issues at the Democratic National Convention as well, so It seems this kind of experience is not a shocking anomaly confined to one party.
In any case, a presidential debate should be an actual debate, of debatable issues, debated by all the candidates expected to be on the ballot of at least one state, not simply Republicans and Democrats. Being less popular before a debate does not lessen the value of a candidate’s position.
I am excited and encouraged to see there will be an alternate presidential debate hosted by Free and Equal Elections8 on October 23rd. More information can be found at freeandequal.org. I wonder how this debate will compare with the CPD debates? Will it be a real debate?
- stock.xchng - Horse smile (stock photo by LilGoldWmn) [id: 822158] Available at: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=822158 [Accessed October 18, 2012].
Commission on Presidential Debates - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commission_on_Presidential_Debates [Accessed October 15, 2012].
- stock.xchng - bust (stock photo by myles) [id: 43300] Available at: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=43300 [Accessed October 18, 2012].
Divide and rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divide_and_rule [Accessed October 17, 2012].
Statism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statism [Accessed October 15, 2012].
False dilemma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma [Accessed October 18, 2012].
2012 Presidential Candidates (P2012) Available at: http://politics1.com/p2012.htm [Accessed October 17, 2012].
About - Free & Equal Available at: http://freeandequal.org/about/ [Accessed October 18, 2012].