Sat all of last evening watching the YouTube CNN Democratic Presidential Debate.
In many ways, it wasn’t that much different from a regular presidential debate – atleast from the standpoint of the answers from the candidates. Most answers were loopy, vague, safe and nebulous. Some were factually incorrect, some responses of intent were clearly unachievable. Some were meant for the base, some were meant to just stick to the safe middle path. There were exceptions of course – Dennis Kucinich, notably, was very precise – but then he’s a marginal candidate and will never get nominated. Which is probably why he was so candid.
But what was different were the spectrum of both the questions and the people who were asking them. To a large extent, a majority of the questions were based on very personal prerogatives which lent all of them an element of authenticity that is difficult to escape. ( Like a father, whose eldest son was killed in Iraq, asking when the troop withdrawal would happen under each of the candidates – because he didn’t want his youngest son killed as well). And while the candidates, for the most part handled the questions pretty well – that’s the advantage of stubbornly loopy responses – difficult to blunder one’s response – when one isn’t really answering the question – and is instead dabbling with nebulous hypothetical.
But what was striking was the format – at some point, this format is going to mature beyond just asking a question on a pre-recorded video clip. At some point, it will become more mainstream – be it via video conferencing mediated by a service provider like YouTube – which would lend itself to cross questioning – specifically with regular voters – and not some pseudo intellectualized moderator. And at that point, this format is going to be of real value – because then, hopefully, we can weed out some of the generalities of the responses and get some real answers about concerns of real people.
Ultimately, it proves the fundamental point that I have written about at regular intervals – that technology is the great leveler – the platform that creates an egalitarianism of ideas and thoughts – that would ultimately benefit all of us.
And by the way, Anderson Cooper was great in his facilitation. The man gives me hope – in a sea of loud mouthed, opinionated cable TV hosts – this man stands out – in his sheer class and competence.
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