Monday, October 3, 2016

First General Debate of the 2016 Election

One week ago, on September 26, the first general debate of the 2016 American Presidential election took place. Not being particularly well-versed in American politics, the thing that stood out to me most was how abysmal the candidates’ debate skills were. As part of a study on the debate in 21st Century Literacy, each student was assigned one of the candidates and had to evaluate their performance in the debate. I was assigned Donald Trump.

Trump would actually be a skilled debater if it weren’t for one thing: his lack of control. His use of gestures is masterful, helping to emphasize important points and keeping viewers engaged, and his choice of vocabulary is effective enough, not too complicated for the average viewer but still formal. He also appears very prepared for the moderator’s prompts. Unfortunately, that’s all lost as he raises his voice above appropriate levels, constantly interrupts Clinton, doesn’t respect the moderator when told to move on. His lack of respect in this debate is detrimental to his image, and he already has an uphill battle to fight with that. For each interruption or disregard of what the moderator says, he's pushing his image down and the points he makes are diminished and disregarded. It's entirely a losing play.

If you're so smart, show it by not interrupting Clinton.

What does this mean for the rest of us? I've never participated in any formal debates, though I have participated in many an informal one. Unfortunately, informal debates do make a lot more room for poor debate skills as they are usually unprepared for and there is no moderator to keep things balanced. Informal or formal, I think there's one important lesson everyone can take away from this debate; you should show respect for everyone involved in a debate. Nobody should be interrupting anyone else. If it's an informal debate, there should at least be a system set up to show who has a point to make. In debates I've been in, this tends to naturally become raising a hand due to habits from school. Another part of respect is not raising your voice. Unfortunately, this seems to be quite a mainstay in the debates in which I've participated. I think this is simply because of the informality and the setting such debates took in. Thrown into more formal debates, I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem. In conclusion, your points will be ignored if you don't show respect to others in a debate. Learn from this general debate and don't do what the candidates do.

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