Looking back at the start of Rush Limbaugh’s program in the 1980’s not many would have predicted at the time that it would usher in a new era of conservative talk radio that would completely change the political dynamic in the United States. The same could be said when Fox News had it first broadcast. Or even the day Rick Santelli made his comments on the floor of the NYSE that sparked the Tea Party.
Today I see a new revolutionary change that many may not think is a huge deal, but could easily be a huge ‘disruptive innovation’ that could upend our political world for generations.
What I’m referring to is the new changes in debate style that are occurring today. The Family Leader debate, the Cain and Gingrich Lincoln Douglas Debate, the upcoming Huntsman and Gingrich Lincoln Douglas Debate, and to a lessor extent the Bloomberg debate a while back all mark a very large change from the past way of doing things, and that change is that the amount of time for each candidates answers are rising enough that the expectation is changing to candidates giving an argument as opposed to talking points(because of a limitation on time).
I think a lot of people are overlooking how much of a seismic shift this represents because they are looking at it from the context of this primary and the current choices, but what they aren’t factoring in is the effect this has on the voting public and the democrats going forward.
On the Democrats
Most people(including myself) will point out that when it comes down to it the arguments of the left can’t hold under careful scrutiny. They never have and never will. So a change like this is actually going to force Democratic candidates to instead make an argument for what they are for(instead of just stating it) and defend it against pointed questions from their opponents. This is practically a guaranteed losing proposition for Democrats over the long term. There is no way a Democrat could hold an argument on Keynesian stimulus spending, government intervention in healthcare, the current construct of Social Security, etc. under that kind of scrutiny. There is no way! So going forward 1 of 2 things will happen if these debate changes stick. The first is that they will lose debate after debate after debate in the future. And the second(the more likely outcome as the population gets further educated on political issues from these) is that the Democratic party will start a very swift move to the right predicated on the fact that they can’t defend the arguments they’ve made up until this point.
On the voting public
There is a huge difference between 30 second talking point answers and several minute arguments and how that affects the voting public. The purpose of a 30 second(or even a minute long) limit is to force stagnation within the political views of the American public and therefore reduce the risk of loss to either side. And it comes from this broken notion in political science that 100% of politics is opposing value systems and that the two sides are going to line up the same way no matter how much propagation of information, arguments, and ideas is occurring. So essentially in the past the answers had to come in the form of “signing onto” existing proposals or beliefs that Americans already had at least a limited understanding of. But…
When you increase the answer time to allow for real arguments to formulate the dynamic changes completely. Candidates are then in the position of persuading and educating people to come to their side instead of “signing onto” existing divisions.
And since a very large number of people tune into Presidential Debates(especially during the general election) the affect this is going to have is to substantially accelerate the very slow changes in people’s personal views over time. And since I(and I’m sure practically all of the people on RedState) am confident that over time we will completely dominate these arguments we may in fact be looking at one of the most important changes in the campaign and election process in history.
Now I do see the irony in expecting a change that is rooted in debates from 150 years ago to last when it didn’t last back then, but I don’t think this change is going away this time. Its a different world and voters are going to demand this going forward and today political machines no longer exert influence on campaigns. Today voters do. I think(and I hope) that we will be looking back at today and pointing at this key change as a big turning point in our countries future and something that ushered in a new era of conservative governance.