Watching the unusual and strange early Democratic presidential debate last night at my alma mater, South Carolina State University, where I was student body president for two consecutive years, it seems that MSNBC would have us believe that in 90 minutes eight candidates could tell us everything we need to know about the issues of foreign policy, domestic policy, moral striving and civility. With a few more debates to be televised, the network implies that we can find comfort in which candidate we will support.

Let me get this straight: eight candidates and hour and a half … that’s just over 10 minutes each! Obviously the questioner there was somewhat intimidated by frontrunners Clinton and Obama and allowed them to repeatedly exceed their time limits while the others were kept in check. What kind of nation are we when we base our decisions about a presidential
candidate on theater at its best and worst? Television debates are just Hollywood-style productions that showcase only personality, charisma and whatever other shallowness to which this country is endeared.

After watching last night’s presidential debate, and many others over the last couple of decades, I’ve concluded that instead of elucidating candidates’ stances and thereby helping us to understand the choice to make, by disallowing participants’ proper responses to questions, by way of time constraints, debates actually make voters more apathetic about casting their votes for any. When will we have a process where voters actually learn about the men and women who want to serve us in the highest office? Are we willing, by our own exhaustive research, to study them like a historical assignment and become the researchers of the subject and finally draw our own conclusions? Instinctively, deep down we know, when it’s all said and done, that they all lie, they all fabricate the truth, they all contradict themselves, they all allow themselves to be corrupted by money and special interest groups to some degree and in the end, they are all politicians willing to say, do or adjust to anything to win our vote for the moment.