However, this is more than a competition, it’s a debate about the future of our country. Angela Minor, Director of Martin Luther King, Jr. Forensics Program at Howard University, says voters should be listening for more than just great soundbites,such as crucial points in each candidate’s response, what their plans are and most importantly how they plan to implement their strategic proposals. “Where you have a candidate that is unable to tell you how they’re going to deliver or how they’re going to change the economy or a tax code, the American people have nothing to hold you accountable to,” said Minor.
Minor says both candidates will need to introduce their plan, provide points on how they plan to implement it, and an intellectual rebuttal for their opponent’s eventual response. Candidates have to answer the question at some point, while doing so they must respond intelligently and directly. Minor says any old response isn’t necessarily strong enough to be a rebuttal.
“You have to know your plan and your opponent plans so much so that it breaks down or tears down that of your opponents; that makes effective debate”, said Minor. “That makes heated intellectual change, that makes people say, ‘Oh he really hit him on this or that issue’ intelligently, but with enough time to offer their alternative plan to the American people”
Mr. Graham agrees. He says that not only must candidates know their stuff and that of their opponents, but must remain consistent and accurate. Graham acknowledges that presentation is important, but specific answers are crucial on a national stage discussing serious issues and any inconsistencies among the candidates must be diligently explained.
“You should look for claims with proof, look for warrants behind the claims and ask yourself, “how does he know that?” said Graham.
And if the candidate has historical or empirical examples, or if he has solid reasoning and logic, or if he has independent agencies backing up his claim, Graham says that is probably a solid argument. Without these things, and without a discerning public, he suggests candidates will make up whatever they want and hope you believe them.
“I think the debates are better now that there are real-time fact-checkers, but that doesn’t mean the candidates don’t still tell some whoppers,” he said. “Put their feet to the fire, and hold their arguments up to scrutiny.”