They’re Here! The Debates Are Here!

It’s time!  Can you hear the singers singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the [political] year”?

The Debates have arrived!

It’s the time during each campaign season where political junkies collect even more fodder to antagonize their friends and coworkers with the morning after the debates.

Meanwhile, these are the weeks leading up to the election where we solidify our beliefs in our candidate and/or begin to seriously question whom we will cast our ballot for.

This election cycle we get to watch four debates in the weeks prior to Election Day:

October 3 – Presidential Debate on Domestic Policy
Air Time:  9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location:  University of Denver, Colorado
Participants:  Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator:  Jim Lehrer (Host of NewsHour on PBS)

October 11 – Vice Presidential Debate on Foreign and Domestic Policy
Air Time:  9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location:  Centre College, Danville, Kentucky
Participants:  Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan
Moderator:  Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)

October 16 – Presidential Town Meeting format including Foreign and Domestic Policy
Air Time:  9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location:  Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York
Participants:  Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator:  Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


October 22 – Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy
Air Time:  9:00-10:30 p.m.
Location:  Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida
Participants:  Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator:  Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS)

Did you know political debates haven’t always been a part of our election culture? Debates aren’t even mandatory to hold elections.

Abraham Lincoln was the first to ‘instigate’ debates.  Mr. Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were both running in the Illinois Senate races in 1858.  Mr. Lincoln would attend Mr. Douglas’ public appearances and ask questions of him.  After doing this a variety of times, Mr. Douglas agreed to debate Mr. Lincoln in seven different debates, which are known as the Lincoln/Douglas debates.

In a 2004 article on PBS.ORG discussing the history of political debates, the public was never fond of politicians who campaigned and/or asked for votes.  Most of the political campaigning was done through newspapers, which also controlled political pamphlets and organized some of the public meetings.

The Lincoln/Douglas debates didn’t spark a national need for continued or regular political debates; in fact debates didn’t occur for many years after their famed meetings.  However as time passed, politicians–usually the underdogs—wanted more exposure and began advocating for debates.

In 1940 Wendell Wilkie (R) challenged Franklin Delano Roosevelt to a debate and in 1944, Republicans purchased radio airtime following one of Roosevelt’s addresses, similar to political party rebuttals of today.  Since 1976 Presidential candidates have debated every election cycle, as well as their running mates, except in 1980.  Now, political debates are more of a modern era component of our election process.

So what do we do with these program-cancelling, blood pressure-raising, televised events?

Some parts of the electorate won’t watch them at all.  Many are the people who know who they will be voting for and would still vote for their candidate even if he fell flat on his face.

Others will watch already knowing who they want to vote for, yet keeping an open mind to see if their candidate is as competent as they’d hoped.  Will their candidate flub a bit, creating some doubt?  Perhaps, but probably not enough to make them change their vote. This part of the electorate may watch one or two more debates, mainly to solidify their allegiance.

Then there are the all-important undecided voters.  These are the people each candidate is intently vying for; the ones who, if they hear a few things they like, might be swayed to vote for one candidate over the other.

At the very least, each candidate’s platform will be carefully scrutinized and will cause people to tune into each of the following debates.

In a survey commissioned by the University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse, “62 percent of American voters say they prefer that a candidate agree with some part of his opponents’ agenda and pledge to work across party lines to make it happen, while only 33 percent prefer that a candidate point out a problem in his opponent’s agenda, and say what he would do differently. And undecided voters in the presidential race feel this sentiment even more strongly – with fully 78 percent seeking a candidate who commits to work constructively across party lines rather than find fault with his opponent.”

So what do we do as debate watchers?

  1. Listen.  We need to try and put our distain for ‘our opponent’ aside and take the time to hear what he’s saying.  If you are part of the committed group, your belief and honor won’t change but you will better understand what the opposition is saying and will grow to be more educated about both sides of the arguments.
  2. Speak Out.  If a candidate appears to be a legitimate danger to our country, tell people.  Don’t just hold blindly to a party line this year; explain why you believe what you believe and help to educate others, presenting factual, legitimate reasons why the other party’s platform isn’t good for the country.
  3. Pray.  Whatever your belief is spiritually, pray this political season.  Pray for your own wisdom in choosing a candidate, especially if you are undecided, and pray for the country as a whole.
  4. Vote.  If you are traditionally an early voter, maybe wait until after the Vice-Presidential debates to send in your ballot.  That way you have heard at least one Presidential debate and you will have heard from the Vice-Presidential candidates.  Voting is such a precious right we have in America; don’t get pulled into our normal way of doing things fast or early.  We aren’t cooking a microwave pizza. The privilege of electing a President is only afforded to us every four years.  Savor this time, enjoy the process and know that your vote counts.

This is it.  They’re here!

We are at the critical time in this election process.  Be educated about your vote, take the time to watch and listen to the candidates at least once in this debate season and most of all, know who you are voting for this election.

Stay tuned to for full-coverage of each of the debates!





Tina Drake

Arizona PolitiChick Tina Drake has been teaching and mentoring Junior High and High School students, in churches where she has been active, since her time as a college student, over twenty-five years ago. Tina believes politics and religion can, and should, be discussed together. She says she is a lifelong follower of Christ and believer in the true significance of God's power in each and everyone's life and she believes in the absolute need for God and Christ to be honored and included in the decisions made for our country. Tina continues to mentor students in this age group, along with her husband, multiple times each week. She believes that encouraging people, especially students, to see the need for a relationship with God and Jesus Christ in their everyday life, is an absolute need in her life. Tina volunteers weekly in her children's school, allowing her to witness how today's students are learning and developing in their social, educational, political and spiritual beliefs. Witnessing how students experience life, during the timeframe of Junior High through College, is immensely important to Tina. She believes this age group needs to be mentored, so they will have the tools with which to navigate today's societal pressures to live life without God, rather than with Him. Tina has also been a teacher to women in churches, teaching small groups, as well as speaking to large groups on a variety of spiritual topics. In addition to Spiritual Formation, Tina has been actively following and discussing the many facets of politics. Tina is a graduate of the University of Arizona, having earned a degree in Communication and a minor in Political Science. After college, she worked in the field of Advertising and Marketing, specializing in Media Buying and Planning, as well as directing entire Marketing and Sales departments. She has been a writer for since 2012 and says she enjoys the opportunity to encourage Americans to live out their faith in Jesus Christ, while they stand firm on the principles set forth by our forefathers in their political beliefs.

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