Though most Americans aren’t paying close attention at this point, Presidential candidates from both major parties have been participating in some early debates with other candidates from their respective parties. I was not able to watch the first debate (which was held amongst the 8 Democrats who have thrown their hats in) live, I caught snippets of it after the fact via the Internet.
Watching the debate turned me off, because it was simply a show of who could get in the best sound bites on issues where viewpoints were not incredibly different. I then watched the media frantically try to decide who “won” the debate, which wasn’t really much of a debate at all. As such, I have not really paid attention to the rest.
Then something perked my ears up. Apparently, Edwards and Clinton were caught by one of the microphones discussing reducing the number of candidates in a debate. Of course, this was frowned upon by those considered to be second tier candidates, as reducing the number of candidates in a debate would most likely take the form of a debate between the frontrunners: Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.
Of course, this raises an interesting question: Would the debates be better with few candidates? Yes and no. It may allow fuller, more satisfying responses, but it also creates an artificial barrier between the public and the so-called second tier candidates, who need the publicity and whose presence challenges the top tier to deliver a substantive message.
But then again, perhaps debates are not the best way to get the needed information. Now we have the Internet and we can see what each candidate thinks on each of the issues by reading directly off their campaign pages. We can see what the candidates are doing by reading about them and if we’re really interested, we can hone in on news relating to specific candidates using Google News. I think that instead of worrying about whether the debate are limited or not, we should probably focus more on the substance of the campaigns as shown by the web.
Below, I’ve provided some links that may be helpful for comparing candidates. Eventually, I will make a separate link page that is better organized and has more information. I’ll start with the candidate’s issue pages (or homepages if they do not have a separate issues page):
Of course, there’s always Wikipedia. And if you’re inclined to watch video, you can watch some of the candidates speaking during visits to Google as part of their Candidates@Google talks:
I’ll post more about my thoughts about the candidates at a later date.