Debate is Not Just a Word

Debate is not just a word, it’s an action

Before the American people are subjected to another “presidential debate,” would someone please define the word for the candidates and insist we get what we paid for? I watched Tuesday night’s screaming match and left thinking “surely this isn’t the best we can do.”

One news commentator likened Chris Wallace’s moderating to a substitute teacher in a high school classroom. I’ve had enough subs to conjure up images of students running around the room, throwing paper airplanes as the poor soul sits helplessly by. When I was a substitute teacher, I remembered the havoc my classmates and I caused and went in with my sternest face to get ahead of the ruffians.

Poor Chris kept trying to remind our two debaters about the protocols they had agreed to, to no avail. I think the rules he expected Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden to play by were broken before they left home.

I checked to see if maybe what we got Tuesday under the guise of “debate” was what we were supposed to get. According to, a debate is “a process that involves formal discussion on a particular topic. In a debate, opposing arguments are put forward to argue for opposing viewpoints. Debate occurs in public meetings, academic institutions, and legislative assemblies.”

That’s what I was expecting. That is not what I got. Style, speed, tone, volume, diction, language, clarity, fluency, are qualities good debaters have. They have a clearly defined topic and they don’t deviate from it. So, the professor in me wants to issue a grade of D- to my president and his opponent. Constant interruptions, outright lies, disrespect for the moderator, and name calling, don’t make the grade.

Every four years we hear that the upcoming election is the most important of our lifetime. I buy it every time and risk life and limb to get to the polls—literally. In 2007, I was working away from home, so I drove two hours to cast my vote amidst tornado sirens and severe weather warnings. About five minutes after I left, the polling place was struck by a tornado. Like I said, that’s how important this privilege and right is to me.

I want a leader who is an advocate and fighter for justice, equity, equality, fairness, civility, inclusion, and progress. I fully understand that this is not a perfect world we live in—COVID-19 keeps striking those I love, unemployment has taken a toll on my neighbors and friends, and l see the ravages of poverty strewn all around me. I’m not asking for a perfect world. I’ve never lived in one and don’t expect to in this lifetime, but I do long for respect, civility, and opportunity.

Enough about Tuesday, today I plan to reach out to the Commission responsible for this debacle labeled as debate and I will voice my humble opinion. I want to be a well-informed voter, an active citizen of the democracy, and these debate opportunities are supposed to provide that. I pray that next week when Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence meet, we will see a different tone and better adherence to the agreed upon rules.

We, the people, must listen carefully to what is and is not being said as the final weeks of this election cycle wind down. We have a choice and we, the people, must never forget we get the government we deserve only when we demand it. I didn’t have to check the dictionary to know that.

What are your views about the recent Presidential Debate moderated by Chris? Please share your insights with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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