“Those who think that they alone have the right answers, those who demonize those who think differently, and those who refuse to listen and take other points of view into account—these leaders, in my view, are a danger to the American people and to the future of our republic.” Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
There is no question but that political debate has turned from what ought to be an intellectual contest based upon differing ideas to one of impolite name calling, sharp-tongued rebuttals and not a small amount of ad hominem attacks. The sound bite has come to rule the arena of give and take.
Secretary Gates has it all neatly summed up in his 50 words above. Politics is no longer, if it ever was, an exercise of explication as much as it is now one of obfuscation. When people think they know where a candidate stands, they are operating at a disadvantage. Only what that office-seeker wants them to know is revealed. Most rhetoric is expended painting the opponent into a corner which becomes fatal unless the recipient can extricate him/herself. Political/personal verbal zingers become easy ways to hide the truth or reshape it in a way that may be unrecognizable to voters. Forget the outright lies and falsehoods offered without shame!
Debates ought to call on each candidate to speak for a limited time on his/her own program to meet certain problems letting the audience near and far determine what they find useful.
Is it too much to ask so that every voter so choosing can construct their own cost-benefit analysis of each candidate?
Politicians are offering to serve their fellow citizens. Ought not those same citizens set the parameters for what each public servant-to-be is required to reveal as to why a vote for him/her is warranted?
Anything less and the voter is being played for a sucker who has little chance to hack their way through a jungle of misinformation.