Debates? Bah, humbug!

I stayed at home on Sunday to watch the presidential debate. I’m not going to write much about it because (a) someone else probably will and (b) they won’t matter very much.

Everyone always gets excited about presidential debates since they are the last major thing on the election campaign schedule that could conceivably change the outcome. The losing side always pins a lot of hope on them, probably as a way to keep up morale. However, debates rarely sway any significant number of people. The type of people who watch debates tend to be the type of people who have already made up their minds and won’t be swayed by a verbal gaffe. American primary debates might have an impact because the voters don’t know much about any of the candidates and all the candidates are from the same party. However, in these presidential debates, we all know Tsai, Chu, and Soong pretty well by now, and they have very strong partisan affiliations. We might have learned something about the VP candidates from their debate (which I’ll eventually get around to watching on youtube), but almost no one decides their presidential vote based on the VP candidate.

In case you really want to know, my quick recap is as follows. Tsai seemed angry throughout the first half of the debate. Both Tsai and Chu made petty sounding attacks and came off as a bit of jerks. Soong, as the third place candidate that the other two ignored, got to step back and sound presidential. Predictably, he also cried. They went over the same old themes, repeating the same old lines. The only things that were really interesting were Soong’s dissection of the 92 Consensus and Tsai’s interpretation of what happened at the Hong Kong meeting in 1992. Again, this whole shebang will have almost no impact on the polls, which seem to have been fairly stable for the last month and a half.

7 Responses to “Debates? Bah, humbug!”

  1. Alan Says:

    Before the debate, I said yes to Tsai. After the debate, I still say yes to Tsai. How come Chu said KMT had already settled the KMT money issue when DPP was ruling Taiwan? As Tsai said, no one can never wake up anybody who pretends sleeping.

  2. ジェームス (@jmstwn) Says:

    The 1994 and 2014 Taipei mayoral debates are the best I’ve yet seen in Taiwan. It makes sense debates don’t affect outcomes that much, since the candidates are during those hours the same people they were beforehand and will be afterward. That said, they make for a great historical record of what the race was like.

  3. ジェームス (@jmstwn) Says:

    In the vice presidential debate, there was a citizen question about putting more democratic pressure on the Legislature by electing 1/4 of the legislators every year. Hsu favored electing 1/2 every 2 years. Your thoughts?

    • frozengarlic Says:

      I would like more frequent elections to ensure that parties in power don’t stray too far from mainstream public opinion. However, I haven’t been able to figure out exactly how this should be done. Every time I think I have an answer, someone gives me a good reason that the side effects would be worse than the current effects.

      The questioner seemed to think that more elections would produce more social legislation. I’m not so sure about that. I suspect that legislators would just spend more time campaigning.

      Also, this is not going to change. Politicians love the security of four year terms with infrequent elections. The most we can realistically hope for is some tinkering around the edges.

    • les Says:

      Maybe lowering the barriers to recalling a legislator would help. Low-quality legislators like Alex Tsai would be much better behaved I think if there were a realistic chance a movement like the Appendectomy Project could succeed.

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