The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Framed debates exclude critical thinking


After decades of fraudulent politics, outright treachery, deceit and corruption, the 2020 election is proof that no matter how bad things appear to be, it is highly likely that they will get worse if the American people continue to allow the system to be run by habitual liars, conmen, and hypocritical politicians.

Thanks to a lack of interest, herd mentality, and cognitive dissonance, many people remain blissfully unaware of the malfeasance at hand, as the corporate media mesmerizes the masses with slick programming and manipulative productions. Modern mainstream media has devolved into a cesspool of repetitive, carefully curated soundbites and relentless propaganda, perpetuating monumental myths that simply defy logic, and anyone capable of critical thinking is rightfully turned off by the entire process. 

While the 24-hour news cycle offers an abundance of opportunity and potential, especially considering the number of hours that need to be filled, there never seems to be any time to explore topics in-depth. Producers cater to the lowest common denominator of attention spans, and hosts and guests alike are constantly hurried and told there’s no time to continue this conversation, only for the station to cut to a scandalous Kars4Kids commercial and a slew of trashy sales pitches.

The debate moderators guarantee that this time crunch carries into the debate format and complicates the process by distracting and redirecting the line of inquiry.  Questions are selected that frame the debate and minimize independent perspectives, and artificial time constraints prevent any meaningful conversation from taking place. 

The initial strategy is to limit the participants in the debate to the Republicans and Democrats, at the expense of all independent thinkers and at great detriment to our society.  Third parties have been essentially blocked from the debate stage, and this is in direct contradiction to the spirit of revolution that founded this nation.  

As George Washington wisely warned in his farewell address, “Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.”

John Adams said, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties…”

After editing out all outside opinions and narrowing the field to  candidates suitable to the economic interests that control this nation, the debates are severely hampered by the lack of relevant, intelligent questions that lead to discussions about policies that will dictate the quality of life for generations.  Instead, superficial talking points and ad hominem attacks have taken the place of substantive, intellectual debate.

The only thing Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris could agree on during the debate is that they both hate Iran, and as is always the case with the candidates that are allowed to grace the debate stage this late in the game, perpetual war is not a topic to be discussed nor debated at all. Both sides posture for votes with no real talk about the bloated military budget that’s supporting this nation’s fairytale, house-of-cards economic system. 

Pence demonstrated that he was so out of touch with reality that he couldn’t feel the fly on his head or the millions of people laughing at him around the world. His manner is so unnaturally calm and cold that it appeared the fly was debating whether or not she had landed on an acceptable corpse in which to lay her eggs. 

Lies and distortions of reality are to be expected from the current administration, but Pence’s attempt to legitimize the last four years and the atrocious decisions that emanate from his and Trump’s administration is despicable.  It is unconscionable that these people act the way they do and expect the public to respect them.  

Money and power have trumped decency and respect, at great cost to the environment and humanity. This is the leadership that generations of greedy, aloof, and irresponsible citizens have manifest for the rest of us to deal with.

Unfortunately, the deck is stacked against the people, and we have much more to deal with than just a narcissistic commander-in-chief. 

Senator Harris’ performance at the debate included her deceptive, cleverly worded promise to “decriminalize” and “expunge records” related to cannabis arrests, but this hollow proclamation falls on deaf ears, and millions of activists that worked to bring society to the brink of cannabis legalization are rightfully concerned that a Biden/Harris administration will not be good for the cause. 

As a prosecutor, Harris is well-aware of how to split legal hairs, and decriminalization is a far cry from legalization. The facetious war on drugs provides a revenue stream to government agencies that is as addictive as the drugs they claim to fight. Neither party is willing to kill their golden goose, and Harris is signaling that nothing will change here, other than semantics.

Kamala Harris’ record as a prosecutor speaks for itself, as her office arrested and charged thousands of non-violent Bay Area citizens with cannabis charges during her time as district attorney, and her actions contributed to a disproportionate number of young minorities being imprisoned for victimless crimes.

As California’s Attorney General in 2014, Harris’ office oversaw an operation that sent Department of Justice agents, in coordination with secretive Major Crimes Task Force operatives, to conduct warrantless raids of cannabis gardens in Lake and Mendocino Counties. Identification of the state’s perpetrators and class-action lawsuits stopped these tactics, but the lesson to be learned from these examples is that Harris is more than willing to reinterpret laws as needed to fit her agenda. Harris laughs off questions about her cannabis record, but now she’s begging for votes from those that support criminal justice reform.

Status quo Joe’s support of the 1994 crime bill and his role in the country’s mass incarceration plague are no stark contrast with Trump’s Nixonian “law and order” mantra. It should be obvious at this point that there are no progressive horses in this race. 

We are left with two condescending administrations that refuse to upset the moneyed interests that control the system, and while many will argue that it is best to vote for the lesser of two evils, that line of thinking has failed repeatedly, and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  

If the nation is to cease being a debt-ridden, farce of a democracy, the two-party system needs to be abolished, Citizens United overturned, and term limits imposed for all public office. 

Debate and conversation should not be limited to what satisfies advertisers and donors, and debates should be hosted and moderated by independent, nonpartisan organizations to make the process more inclusive and more relevant to the population.

Anything short of a complete overhaul of this failed experiment is merely kicking the can down the road at this point, and it is beyond time that society demands real change, social justice, and equitable treatment for everyone.

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