Political TV Debates: Substance or Spectacle?

While we currently anticipate the formation of a new government in Britain, what was pretty interesting a few weeks back were TV debates between the leaders of the Labor, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. While the on-screen exchange did make for some engaging verbal action, one must question whether such platforms actually dumb down the real politics for mere spectacle instead. One such article highlights how

…there was no serious policy debate. The candidates invariably agreed with their audience, even when questions were silly. They used one-liners, written for them in advance. And, of course, they had the perfect answer to every problem, from Britain’s nuclear bomb to the country’s plumbing system.

In the process, the traditional hustings which accompanied British electoral campaigns disappeared. The media no longer cared about battles in individual constituencies; attention was focused on the TV confrontations, which were presented as rounds in a boxing match.

In light of these concerns, here are some questions you might ask yourself:

What are the exact problems with “one-liners” and having the “perfect answer to every problem” in a political TV debate?

How does the analogy of a boxing match contribute to the article’s argument that TV debates dumb down politics?

Do you think such TV debates between party leaders would benefit Singapore society, especially before election time? Why?


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