Why Are Debate Moderators Afraid of Social Issues?


Atrios comments on debate topics:

We’ll see how the remaining debates go, but it’s interesting how now that issues that were (perhaps wrongly) for years seen as things Democrats had to be on defense about are seen more as strengths, they mostly disappear as issues. Immigration, Teh Gay Marriage, Abortion. Yes abortion made an appearance, but the question wasn’t about abortion, it was about how Joe Biden could defy his church.

I don’t know for sure why these topics were mostly absent, but after the debate I was musing about that too. We’ve had two debates now that have included endless discussions of taxes and economic plans, and sure, those are important topics. But let’s face it: they’re also deadly boring, and most viewers probably zone out pretty quickly. But how about gay marriage? Abortion? Gun rights? Immigration? Climate change? Drug laws? Religious liberty? I’ll bet most voters are actually a lot more interested in those topics than they are in Syria or the optimal top marginal rate on millionaires, and yet they’ve been almost completely absent from the debates. Abortion and (relatedly) religious liberty got very brief mentions last night before Martha Raddatz got bored with them, and in last week’s debate these topics got no attention at all.

Why? Is it because the moderators don’t personally care about these things much? Is it because they somehow consider them less serious than questions about the economy? It certainly can’t be because there’s no disagreement between the parties on these issues. It’s weird.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.