What If…

I watched the second Presidential Debate last night. Of course, I’m not an American, but “living next to [the USA] is like sleeping with an elephant; no matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” As such, I take care to follow American politics rather closely–and always hope that the least vile people win-out (as, mercifully, happened last night).

At one point, Mitt Romney asserted that President Obama had taken twelve days to call the recent attack on the American consolate in Benghazi an act of “terror.” Obama took exception to this and called upon the moderator to check the transcript of a speech he had given the day after the attack–a transcript which did, indeed, contain the word “terror,” thereby falsifying Romney’s claim. Now, I found this exchange to be a very interesting one: not because I happen to think that the particular word one chooses to apply to an act of murderous violence should be a deciding factor in Presidential elections, but it got me thinking… why aren’t there fact-checkers at debates? Wouldn’t that be a useful thing to have?

I mean, think about it: what if there were to be a Presidential debate that was  monitored by a panel of mutually-agreed experts (or at least people with ready access to Wikipedia) and the candidates were free to demand on-spot fact-checks on their opponent’s claims? Wouldn’t that be grand? And also…far more useful to the actual democratic process than the debates as they are currently formatted, where the candidates are free to say whatever shit they want and viewers are therefore forced to make inane decisions about who looked more “presidential” or who looked like they would be “more fun to have a beer with.”

Of course, I can’t imagine most politicians agreeing to such a format.

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About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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6 Responses to What If…

  1. Patrick says:

    It’s a great idea, and it’s one that people have suggested before. However, as you say, it’s not the kind of thing politicians are really going to go for. There are a few independent fact checking bodies out there though, many of which do seem to be pretty neutral in their pursuits. My favourite is factcheck.org; give it a look 🙂

  2. La says:

    This is a very interesting suggestion for the democratic process as a whole. Getting away from rhetoric and towards facts a little more might do everyone a lot of good!

  3. Facts? But why in the world would we want FACTS? (end sarcasm) – yes please, that’s a great idea. My friend and I have also come up with the idea that in order to run for public office, you would have to pass a written exam that proves you are capable of doing the job you’re signing up for. Lawyers have to. Doctors have to. Nurses have to. Heck, TEACHERS have to. So why don’t our politicians have to prove they know the most basic things about the codes of laws they’re trying to run for power to have control over?

    • I could see problems cropping up with that depending on who’s responsible for writing the tests in the first place. That is to say, I could imagine a government rewriting that test in an ideologically slanted way.

      • I know – that’s the only thing we came up with… who would be allowed to write the tests? And how would we insure they are fair and only test on the law. But on principle, I feel like the people who we trust to govern our lives should *know* about the lives and the laws they’re governing with. And they should be held accountable for that.

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