There Might Not Be Any Presidential Debates in 2024
Major party presidential debates have been a significant part of elections in the United States for over a half century, but this wasn’t always the case.
In the antebellum era and for many years after, the average person experienced a campaign more through political cartoons, newspapers, and word of mouth.
In the 2024 presidential election, we may once again see a campaign with no debates between the main candidates.
‘Journalist moderators indicate a pattern of favoritism toward the Democratic nominee’
So far, neither major party has committed to the traditional debates, held by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). In fact, former President Trump hasn’t even shown up for any primary debates.
At least among many conservatives, there doesn’t seem to be any benefit for Republican candidates at these events, since they are forced to debate both their Democrat opponent and biased, left-wing media.
The Hill’s Ben Voth writes of this situation:
The problems with moderators are two-fold. First, journalists have come to occupy a prominent argumentative position in the debates. In the 1990s, journalist moderators would occupy roughly 5 percent of the speaking time in debates. In the most recent series, moderator Chris Wallace consumed more than 25 percent of the speaking time.
There are no established limits for moderator monologues about politics to which candidates are expected to respond. Secondly, journalist moderators indicate a pattern of favoritism toward the Democratic nominee. At times, the reactionary behaviors of moderators have allowed Democratic candidates to receive more speaking time, as they did in most debates prior to 2016 or resulted in the removal of moderators who actively coordinated hostile questions for the Republican candidate. Currently, the RNC requires that its ultimate nominee for 2024 refuse to cooperate with or attend the CPD events in 2024.
Reading that, it sounds like one side gets the benefit of a tag-team partner, and the other side doesn’t. So why play a rigged game?
How can voters decide if there are no debates?
The Hill op-ed noted that in one of the most famous television presidential debates in history, between Republican nominee Richard Nixon and Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy in 1960, both men had eight-minute opening remarks.
“Typically response times today are two minutes or less, while journalist vigorously criticize such limited presentations as ‘lacking context,” Voth wrote.
While some Republican presidential primary debates have already taken place, the prospect of Joe Biden and Donald Trump – the two likeliest nominees at the moment of the Democratic and Republican parties – not debating is unthinkable.
How can voters make informed decisions without hearing what each man has to say?
Or better yet, what they can more easily hide by not being challenged?
Democracies, even republican democracies like our own, require debate.
Let’s hope presidential debates are a tradition that continues.
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