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Tom’s Opinion On: The Debate After The Debate

Former Governor Mitt Romney (L) and President Obama debate the issues in Denver, CO  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Former Governor Mitt Romney (L) and President Obama debate the issues in Denver, CO (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Is it just me, or does it seem that all the commentary after the debate has been more entertaining than the debate itself? The good news is that a lot of people tuned into the debate on TV, online and on radio. Millions of twitter users took the time to give their views on every portion of the debate. Those who were not tweeting themselves where dividing their attention between the actual debate and whatever their favorite talking head had to say.

This is certainly not the first election with social media. However, Facebook passed the 1 billion active user milestone today. One in every seven people on this planet logs into Facebook at least monthly. And, judging by the numbers of my Facebook friends, a sizable majority was tuned into the Wednesday night debate. Some were there for education, others for entertainment.

Is Social Media Helping Or Hurting?

I’m not going to get into who I thought won or lost but it was intriguing to watch the various justifications used to build a case for each candidates performance or lack of it. “Why didn’t they bring this up?” “Why didn’t they bring that up?” Many posters were on the verge of total meltdown because their guy kept his best arrows in the quiver and didn’t deliver the knockout blow.

One commentator blamed Twitter for creating a feeding frenzy for favorite one liners by one candidate over the other. One blamed his candidates perceived poor performance on the altitude in Denver. I speak all over the country and I’m pretty sure that the altitude at the site of the speech has never affected me. It is gratifying to know, that in the future, I can blame my perceived poor performance on the location.

Does It Really Matter Who Won The Debate?

If American’s have one glaring weakness it has to be our competitive nature. Winners and losers are almost a way of life. From Tiddlywinks to professional sports, American’s love a winner. Usually there is a score at the end of the game that gives us that clear distinction of who was victorious. In debates however, the scoring is a little more ambiguous.

In the academic community there are clear rules in debates. Judges score on delivery, presentation, organization, and creativity to name just a few. Maybe that’s what’s needed in political debates. Two or three librarian types, just off camera, to pass in scores like judges at boxing matches. Then the crowd can rise to their feet as the scores are announced. “Judge Hester Prynne scores it 108 for candidate one….”

In the case of political debates, with points and positions directed at an emotionally charged audience, all that counts is, “How you made them feel.”

Decided or Undecided

Every election year the talking heads tell us about the mysterious segment of voters, undecided about which candidate they’ll vote for. I’m not sure I buy into that. Have you heard the following at any time in the past few months? “I am so sick of hearing about this election?” “I hate the negative ads.” “Do they have to be on every station all day long?”

Whether these voters are informed or not is another question, however, they definitely know there is an election coming and most will have formed an opinion long before Election Day. In my opinion, most of the money spent trying to capture those elusive, imaginary “fence sitters” is wasted.

Some Final Thoughts

There is no question that the United States has a very entertaining political process. Besides being the envy of the world, for our freedoms and lifestyles, we are great worldwide entertainment for about ten months every four years. So try not to freak if your guy comes up short either in the debates or the election. Look at it like a movie, it was fun for a time, and when does the next one start? The next presidential campaign is scheduled to kickoff on November 7, 2012. Got your checkbook handy? In four short years, we’ll do it all over again.

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