It’s that time of the year again – presidential debate time. For anyone who’s been living under a metaphorical (and, perhaps, literal – I don’t judge) rock, last night was the first US Presidential debate for the 2016 elections: a 90-minute extravaganza on the topics of economic policy, direction, and security, both domestic and abroad.
If you didn’t watch it, I understand – the prospect of watching two people who don’t really like each other and aren’t good enough actors to hide it talk to each other for an hour and a half is a daunting task – kind of like Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman in Star Wars: Episodes II-III (too nerdy?). Still, there’s a value to watching the debates for yourselves. Here’s a list:
We all know the echo chamber: when our friend groups, both in person and online, spout the same views as us, and so all we end up doing is confirming for each other that we feel the same way. That’s normal, and okay – there’s a reason you’re friends with the people you’re friends with. But it also means that, to a certain extent, your opinion isn’t yours anymore, it’s built up from the collective mass of everyone’s opinions.
Watching the debate in real time, before you see any spins or hear anyone else’s opinion, gives you the chance to form your own opinion, organically. And the importance of this is maybe you'll feel differently from your friends. Maybe certain news outlets aren't being the most unbiased. Maybe you realize that something no one else is talking about, is actually important to you. Because by day two, all you'll see is the sound bites – but this is your opportunity to get the whole story.
to the other side
I know, I know – you already know who you’re voting for. But have you really listened to the other side? I know that in my feed, certain candidates are portrayed as the devil itself, and that’s certainly not the whole story.
The debate stage allows all of us to see how the two candidates match up, how they interact, and how they answer the same questions. It might only affirm what you already feel, but it might also better let you understand the opposition, or make you better able to communicate with your friends and family who have different points of view from you. It might even change your mind.
Do you have something you feel strongly about that the media isn't covering? Most of us have our own niche causes that don't get bumped up the news cycle, and if you don't watch the debate, you'll never know. Plus the October 9th debate is a town-hall style debate, which means you can actually ask your own questions.
Maybe fun isn’t the right word. But hey, it’s a reason to throw a house party, bring your friends together, get some refreshments, and (if you’re over 21), get very, very drunk.
The next debates are on Tuesday, October 4th (vice-presidential), Sunday, October 9th (town hall style, presidential), and Wednesday, October 19th (presidential).