Friday, February 12, 2016

Is anyone listening?

Thursday night's Wisconsin debate mostly demonstrated the weaknesses of the debate format.  The two candidates focused on symbolic gestures to their hoped-for supporters.  The PBS moderators stuck doggedly to their agenda with no serious attempts to deepen the discussion.  The format, allowing 60 to 90 seconds for initial statements and 30 seconds for responses, guarantees superficiality.  That leaves the pundits in the post-game to talk about little else than demeanor and the effect of one-liners.

Clinton's effort to portray Sanders' policy proposals as impractical seems nonsensical to me.  For instance, her take on tuition free public colleges was that it would not work because governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker would not support the idea.  Well yes, if people don't work at the grass roots level to get rid of the right-wing Koch puppets like Walker, then of course nothing will change in the direction the country is going.  That's the point that Sanders always makes and Hillary always misses.  She obviously views the presidency as a managerial job in which the challenge is to tweak things here and there without any serious effort to challenge the fundamentals.

I don't know how much debates figure into peoples' decisions on who to vote for.  It seems unlikely that the policy presentations on candidates' web sites get a lot of scrutiny.  I do think that people are pessimistic about the future and impatient for changes to a degree that the political establishment does not grasp. 

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