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Hopefully people choose substance over style

October 23, 2012
The Alpena News

With the first governmental debates, people reported turning off the picture to listen to the words only - to cut down on distracting behavior.

It reminds me of an ACC class years ago. We studied techniques of campaigning. Will people choose the "emotional leader," or tend to view more objectively?

There are many debating formats from which to choose. Will it be McLaughlin where participants interrupt, talk over one another, and drown out the lone woman? A panel discussion, a town hall, or a more traditional, formal arrangement? The latter is some variation of one side presents, then the other side, and countering in turn with rebuttals - with no direct exchange between the debaters, and all comments directed to the moderator. Depending on the occasion, I prefer a tight ship myself, with participants minding their manners and being kept to the subject at hand.

No matter, in the end might voters value delivery over content whatever the format or venue? Will they prefer a speaker who appears confident, appeals to their emotions, accepts their feelings, may smile a lot? A speaker that oversimplifies, indulges in "glittering generalities," pathos? Does he or she try to steamroll the other side or the moderator, glare at his or her opponent, say nothing beautifully? Promise the unlikely, or impossible?

I find it alarming and hope I am wrong that anybody is swayed by style over substance, and promises not backed up with fact and a degree of probability. Isn't this how demagogues sway millions and gain power?

Elaine Thompson




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