That’s Debatable


The debate on the 29th of September was a roller coaster ride till the very end. The interruptions and insults were nonstop. Throughout the debate at times there were things that had no explanation, I wasn’t being sure if they were breaking or following the rules. The interruptions and insults were nonstop. Here are some of the questions I had while watching the debate. What about this debate was different from past debates? How could each party have better followed the rules of the debate? What can we learn from this debate so that the next debate doesn’t have these problems and has more structure?With these questions in mind, I sought out to find the rules of debate.

One could argue that one purpose of the event is to help undecided voters hear the candidate’s viewpoints on the latest topics and worries of Americans. Candidates take turns answering questions with two minutes to answer the question. The answers must be completely factual so they don’t confuse voters. How do we know the facts are correct? Typically, the moderator fact checks during the debate. However, during the debate on September 29th it was determined that the moderator would not be fact-checking what either candidate said. The opposing candidate gets 60 seconds to respond to the other contender’s statement. It’s important that when giving the opposing statements they are respectful to their competition. After the opposing statement, the mediator has the choice to let both sides give any last-minute statement, they have 30 seconds to do so.

Now with those rules in mind, let’s break down the latest presidential debate and what their goals for the debate were. Before the debate, each party agreed on certain rules including keeping personal space, staying on topic, and giving clear answers to the questions. Mrs. Mays-Nielson stated, ”When they stay on track and when they adhere to facts and back up their points,” is when the debaters are strongest. But through the debate things got more and more out of hand with President Trump bringing up things not related to the topic like money and Biden’s personal life at one point while Biden was undermining and insulting President Trump. As Mr.Rosner put it, “Both of them got caught in the trap of going back and forth and interrupting each other.” At some points throughout the debate, they were so busy trying to bring the other one down that people watching at home didn’t get a clear answer to the question at hand.

Based on the presidential debate alone I think it is clear now more than ever why these debate rules are so important. The rules of debate as most of the time rules do provide structure and organization. With these rules in play, many of the past debates have been very helpful to the American citizens watching at home. According to Mr.Rosner “answering the question and not speaking out of turn” is the most important rule. This debate is an example of how important the mediator’s role is to the process. A strong mediator; they limit the amount of time for each topic, keep the candidates on task, and prevent or stop interruptions from happening. So that people watching at home can get as much out of the event as possible and to make sure all topics are covered.

Mrs. Mays-Nielson explains, “there is a sense of decorum … and you’re not supposed to attack the person.” If you look at past debates and compare them to the latest presidential debate there are some major differences. When the candidates disagreed they did so in a respectable manner without the blatant name-calling as we saw in the last Presidential debate. Both candidates also waited until the mediator was finished asking the question and then they would answer.

This past presidential debate was a learning experience and gave us a look at why it’s important to have rules when debating. In everyday life, we debate with other people when we disagree or have a different opinion and try to get the opposing viewpoint on our side. We as people need to know how to do it and be respectful at the same time. After all, what would America look like if our president didn’t know how to respectfully and professionally state their opinion and debate?.