Opinion

Debates cannot determine America’s fate

Many people discount the value of presidential debates, claiming they don’t have a legitimate impact on voters. But just a week after the first debate, former Gov. Mitt Romney is leading in the polls.

Before the debate, he barely had a chance.

A CNN “Poll of Polls” that averaged three national surveys of likely voters has Romney leading President Barack Obama this week. Romney has the support of 48 percent of likely voters while Obama has 47 percent. However, Obama held a consistent lead the past few months, and a Pew Research Center poll from mid-September reflected a 51 to 43 percent advantage for the incumbent.

Election Day is less than a month away. Who are these voters and why haven’t they solidified their opinions? Information about the two candidates’ platforms has always been available, and the record about what we can expect from either party is already set.

Debates become reality, but they don’t change reality. Reality is what has been said and what our officeholders have done. Romney’s campaign was galvanized by his victory at the debate, which speaks more to the ignorance of American voters than the validity or trustworthiness of his remarks.

The fact is, Romney tailors his positions to fit the circumstances. His recent emphasis on stories involving women strikingly contradicts his otherwise steadfast opposition to women’s rights.

“When these people tell you they’re going to reboot a campaign, they don’t just reboot,” Bill Maher said on “Real Time” after the debate. “They erase the hard drive, take it out and smash it with a hammer.”

The number of American citizens who believe Romney “cares” about them doubled after he beat a distant and seemingly unprepared Obama in the first debate. But voters need to step back and ask themselves whether their opinions shifted because of what he said or how he said it.

After all, when the fluff around Romney’s arguments is stripped away, the substance nearly disappears.

It is also worth considering moderator Jim Lehrer’s inability – or unwillingness – to control the debate, which may have played a role in voter perception, too.

The first televised debate aired in 1960, between Sen. John F. Kennedy and then-Vice President Richard Nixon. After a long day of campaigning, Nixon declined makeup before the debate and thus appeared disheveled on camera. The election turned in Kennedy’s favor, which supports the notion that even something as trivial as cosmetics can have a very real impact on how a person votes.

Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will face off in the vice-presidential debate Thursday night. Then, Romney and Obama will collide twice more on Oct. 16 and Oct. 22. The voting public should consume the debates as a valid measure of the two parties’ beliefs, but not as a perfect indicator of the candidates’ visions in this crucial election.

America’s next four years cannot be decided  in a 90-minute face off.

 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.


October 10, 2012

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Miami coach Jim Larranaga and his staff spent recent practices pushing his players to whip the ball ...

The University of Miami confirmed in a written release Sunday that starting cornerback Malek Young s ...

In 2016, the Miami Hurricanes had tight end David Njoku, who went in the first round of the 2017 NFL ...

Four days had passed since his University of Miami basketball team squandered a 13-point second half ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ search for offensive line help is set to continue on the weekend of Jan. 26, w ...

Presidents at three higher education institutions in Miami "lend our unified voices” to the cal ...

Thirty high school English teachers from Brazil are spending six weeks at UM in a new skill-building ...

Global and local efforts needed to respond to biological threats, UM President Julio Frenk warned at ...

As artificial Intelligence takes hold, tech visionary David Kenny stresses keeping human values in t ...

UM’s First Black Graduates Project committee visits an iconic D.C. museum for inspiration to create ...

The No. 25/23 Miami men's basketball team shot a sizzling 57.6 percent from the field in pullin ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team picked up its third straight win in eight days ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-2) closed out its opening weekend with a 5-2 loss ...

With the help of dominating victories and dramatic comebacks, the No. 19 Miami women's tennis t ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-1) returns to action on Sunday, as it travels to N ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.