People hear sound bites or see quotes online showing what presidential candidates have said during a political event. For example, in February, 2016, Donald Trump said to Time magazine, “I’m going to look into colleges. We’re going to do something in regards to really smart financing.” Does that make any sense, or provide any information?
With the election just 34 days away and two more presidential debates to come, we should
organize “viewing parties” at Pierce College, followed by a panel discussion that can help students and even faculty understand what is being said.
The first presidential debate had more than 84 million television viewers that stayed tuned in from start to finish, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Although alternative viewing options were not included in the 84 million viewer tally due to the difficulty of gathering the number of people who watched via cell phone, tablet or computer, the previous record of nearly 80 million viewers was exceeded. The debate that pulled in those numbers was in 1980 for the Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter clash.
How many people actually understand and can make a conscious decision based upon what the candidates are saying during the debates? Viewing parties and panel discussions offer people an additional source of information and discussion topics as well as clarify ideas that are not clear. It is important to have all the facts.
Here’s an example of a candidate that was unable to recall information while being interviewed.
Chris Matthews hosted a Town Hall featuring Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld on September 28. During this time, Matthews asked Johnson to name a foreign leader that he had respect for.
Johnson’s first response, “I’m having another ‘Aleppo moment.’”
After being flustered for about one to two minutes, he finally said the name of a former Mexican president, due to help from his running mate.
In early September, Johnson made an appearance on the show “Morning Joe,” and one of the panelist asked him “What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?” Johnson’s response was “What is Aleppo?” The panelist responded that is was the epicenter for the Syrian refugee crisis, where he was then interrupted by Johnson who said he knew what it was.
This topic is in large discussion in relation to foreign affairs. He is running for commander in chief and has now at least twice not had an answer in regards to foreign issues or affairs.
Students typically do not watch or know about third party candidate’s town halls or rallies. Having viewing parties for the various town halls and debates present students with more opportunities to learn about policy ideas and those that are running for the highest office.
Students at UCLA hosted viewing events for the first debate across their campus, and more than 200 were present in one of the auditoriums that was used.
Jacob Soboroff, a political correspondent with MSNBC, goes out to various political events around the country and also holds focus groups. There is a plethora of political science professors on our campus that can provide an informational discussion. These are examples of people that can be on a panel. Political reporters, commentators, journalists, and even authors tend to take to the internet and television at the end of a debate to discuss their thoughts on what was said.
Hosting a debate viewing party can get students more involved and can increase the number of voters for the election.
Maya Kamami, an editor for Drexel University’s The Triangle, wrote an article for cnbc.com about why college students aren’t voting.
“In 2008, 44 percent of 18-24 year-olds voted, the least out of all the age demographics. In the 2012 election, only 38 percent of 18-24 year-olds voted, again, the least out of all the age demographics. These decreasing numbers should be a reason for concern. The nation’s youngest aren’t voting,” Kamami wrote.
The vice presidential debate was October 4, and a viewing party and panel discussion
could have been held to allow students and faculty another source of information. The remaining two presidential debates are October 9 and October 19.
Day of Politics is currently the only event on campus that will allow students and faculty to attain information in regards to politics. This event is also on the same day as the final presidential debate.
The Great Hall has a large enough area to hold a substantial number of students and faculty for a viewing party, and for the upcoming debates the hall should be packed.
Get your experts and make it happen.