The official newspaper of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

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The official newspaper of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

Inside Prep

The official newspaper of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

Inside Prep

A star is born in Indy: Caitlin Clark gets drafted to the Indiana Fever

AP Study Season: How Brebeuf Students Deal with Stress

May 17, 2024

As the school year ends and AP exams approach, many Brebeuf students grapple with increased levels of stress and anxiety. The pressure to perform well...

Brebeuf’s Track Team Sprints Toward Success

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The Track season is unfolding with remarkable success! This year, there are many great runners who contribute to the team and are leading the team to ascendancy....

Pre, during, post: The prom trifecta

Pre, during, post: The prom trifecta

May 16, 2024

Our definition of prom in 2024 is a lot different than that of 20 years ago; rather than just going to a dance in a school gym for 3 hours, prom now consists...

The Modern Political Debate

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Wall Street Journal
The GOP Republican Debate in Milwaukee, WI.

The job of the President of the USA is considered to be one of the most powerful positions in the world. As a partisan country, however, citizens have significantly different ideas of what policies and legislation the President should support. To that end, political debates were first introduced in 1958 to emphasize a presidential candidate’s proposed policies for their term. Since their inception, these quadrennial debates have markedly shaped political campaigns and influenced public opinion.

While general political debates have been around for over one hundred and fifty years, they have significantly changed in their approach, policies, and topics. With the rise in social media usage, apps like Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) allow political debates to be rapidly disseminated and, more recently, processed by a rising younger audience. With the promotion of political events on social media, research studies are finding that newer generations increasingly participate and actively view political debates. With a growing audience of these broadcasted political exchanges, political debates now have a sizable impact on a politician’s campaign, especially when running to hold a national position. 

With an expanding audience, however, comes questioning the validity of political debates: Are they staged to show a politician’s charisma, or do politicians truly provide viewers with their accurate opinions on topics? Mrs. Neukam, Brebeuf English teacher and moderator of the Brebeuf Young Democrats Club states, “I think politicians are putting on a show for the American people, but I also think that [a show of charisma] is what it takes to be a politician, [especially regarding] the future president of the United States.” In this way, many Americans question whether political debates provide an accurate representation of a candidate’s campaign.

Another facet of American political debates includes the specific topics of discussion. The growth in the audience also reflects its increased diversity, generating demands for new or different topics that are prioritized by candidates for discussion. According to a 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center, individuals in the younger generation want to prioritize climate change and LGBTQ+ rights, while older generations tend to focus more on fiscal responsibilities and US world relations. As a future voter, Emily Garten, class of ‘25, believes that moderators in American political debates should focus on major and current problems in the US. She included healthcare, the debate around abortions, and other issues the Biden administration can improve.

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As political debates become broadcast more widely through social media and integrated into a politician’s campaign, there are many strategies that candidates employ. Some politicians use message-framing to emphasize key points of their campaign, while other politicians emphasize specific points to appeal to their core supporters. The political courtesy that Americans saw in previous years has turned into a ‘strategy’ called ad hominem, where politicians are increasingly attacking the character and credibility of a person, rather than their argument.

Ultimately, political debates are transforming to fit into the frame of an evolving world where social media garners support for a candidate’s campaign, and younger generations are more aware of the effects of political speech on a politician’s election. The approach of future debates will likely adapt to meet the demands of young voters in our rapidly changing nation.

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