Debate is defined as “a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.” There are several ways of describing a debate depending on what type of arguments are put forth and how they are put forth.
Civil debate is conducted in a civil manner; that is to say, in a polite and courteous manner. A heated debate is one in which people get angry and excited. Often heated debates become acrimonious; speaking in an angry and bitter way.
Formal debates are governed by rules. There are two teams, each consisting of one or two members. The speakers take turns and are given an allotted time in which to present their arguments. At the end, the team which presented the most persuasive and convincing arguments is determined to be the winner. Often in high schools and universities in America there are debate teams and those aspiring to become lawyers, politicians or merely persuasive speakers join these clubs. Generally, when there is going to be a presidential election, aspiring candidates square off in debates which are sponsored by major media and televised nationally. This year the Democrats held a series of debates in order to choose their candidate who will run against the incumbent, President Trump, and Joe Biden was ultimately selected. Normally then, the candidates of both parties would hold debates, but whether that will happen this year is uncertain.
However, debate need not necessarily be conducted in a formal situation. When a politician travels around giving speeches during a campaign for election to a political office, it is called “stumping”. This comes from the time when a candidate would often stand on a tree stump when speaking. In this day and age the politicians do their stumping at rallies attended by large numbers of their supporters. The coronavirus makes that more dangerous because it is known that the virus is spread in groups of people close together and not wearing masks. The Democrats have refrained from holding such rallies using televised “town hall” meetings, meetings in which a representative cross-section of the community attend and ask the candidate questions. This year even in spite of the dangers of the coronavirus, President Trump has been holding rallies in various cities and those in attendance noticeably are not wearing masks nor maintaining social distancing.
In these final weeks leading up to the presidential election we are certain to see all sorts of debates and it will be interesting to see to what effect these will have on election results.