Is there any point to political debate? We’ve been doing it in this country for hundreds of years and seem to be reaching no conclusions — and it doesn’t seem we soon will. It’s just people yelling at each other and no one learning anything, and each day we are no closer to utopia than the day before. In fact, it seems to get worse, as we look at the shouting heads on TV today and think of how much better things were in the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Of course, no matter how reasoned that appeared, it didn’t keep the Civil War from happening. Political discourse has been nothing but a failure throughout history. Let’s be done with it.
“Without political debate, how will we make decisions on political issues?” you ask, to which I say, “Shut up.” I mean, really, why are you asking questions to a column? You’re part of the problem. I bet you shout at the TV too.
Still, I have considered other alternatives. The best way would be to use Science! to prove which are the best political positions and render all subjective opinionating moot. I tried this and ran into problems, as it involved testing political theories on lower primates. Unfortunately, the monkeys responded by attacking and biting the primatologists, and the whole thing devolved into something pretty reminiscent of Crossfire and no more elucidative.
It’s all quite frustrating, but just as I was thinking the only viable option is to dissolve society into unaffiliated packs of hunter-gathers, innovation happened. Some lumpy fellow — I forget his name — thought to ask a tough political question of a beauty pageant contestant. She then smiled and gave her answer. I don’t remember what it was about or what her answer was, but what I do remember is that it was pleasant to watch.
Look at political debate today. We have O’Reilly spending an hour yelling at people to shut up and Keith Olbermann doing his silly little monkey dance he calls a “Special Comment” for liberals. Then there is Hannity & Colmes — or there used to be Colmes; I can only guess that their arguments finally deteriorated into violence that left only one standing. Also, we have political debates that involve unappealing people droning on and on while moderators try to bait them into fisticuffs to drum up some news. It’s all uncivilized and pointless. And unsightly. Frankly, most political pundits aren’t lookers and often appear to be dorks (excepting me, of course; women want me and men want to be me). The average pundit looks like he might have stopped to argue tax policy on the way to a Star Trek convention. No wonder so many people are disenchanted with politics.
But think of how much more mannered, orderly, and nicer on the eyes things would be if instead, we farmed out political debates to beauty pageants. The beauty pageant contestants would be given a question and then they’d give their answers pleasantly with no arguing. In addition to judging the merit of their positions based on their arguments, we’d also have the swimsuit competition and talent competition (such as playing the flute or juggling) to help in the decision. At the end of the day, the judges would make their choice and the issue would be settled. We may disagree with the judges, but there will always be next year to try again, and so until then we can put our minds to other things like curing cancer or getting that 120th star in Mario Galaxy.
Will this lead to better policies in government? I don’t know, but that’s sort of beside the point. Can anyone show any evidence that the current system of political debate leads to smart policies? I’m simply saying that this way things will be much more civilized and prettier. Other countries would see all these attractive people politely debating polices and then look at their own fat, sweaty people pointing to charts and graphs to make their points and feel ashamed. We’ll be the beacon of civilization; perhaps we’ll even be worshiped as gods.
Again, there is no evidence any of this would lead to better policies, but there’s also no evidence it would lead to worse ones. So I’m thinking all in all it would be a gain for society. We’ve now had hundreds of years to practice our futile attempts at rational discourse, and that has led to nothing but having multiple choices of twenty-four hour news channels to get headaches from. So why keep up this pretense that we’re getting anywhere by leaving debate to supposedly smart people? Let’s instead leave things to the attractive people. Could things really be so bad if we just vote for the nice-sounding people who are pleasant to look at? Basically, that’s how we elected the current president, and a lot of people seem to like him. I don’t know what he’d do for the talent competition, though. Can Obama play the flute?