Since the Kennedy/Nixon televised debate of 1960, the public has been subjected to what amounts to political theater of the worst kind. From that point forward, the presidential election cycle turned into a popularity contest rather than an actual search for the most qualified candidate.
At no time has this been more evident than today. The circus of the Republican party candidate debate has rightfully been compared to a "cage-match." The dignity of that first debate is a long-lost memory. Instead, we are assailed with back-biting, insults, and infantile posturing.
This embarrassment is leaking over into the Democrat debates as well, although not as exaggerated. Nevertheless, what should be a national concern has become puerile entertainment.
At the helm of this farce is Donald Trump, a man who knows how to manipulate people and the media. By force of personality, not unlike other megalomaniacal figures in history, he has dominated the Republican party's field and gained popular support from a public starved for something other than the corruption Washington has become so well known for. Not that Trump is any different in integrity than anyone else in the field, just that he speaks directly to that dishonesty, owns it, and is up front that he will use it to best advantage. He is the villain we love to hate, an anti-hero for the 21st century.
But how useful are these debates? What do they really tell us about the candidates that we can't glean from other sources -- newspapers, television ads, magazine interviews, the internet? Nothing, really. They are a massive waste of time. And money.
It's just entertainment for a nation so despairing of having honest politicians in office that they have resorted to making the race for the most important political office in the US into reality TV. The debates are a fraud and a shame on this nation. They should be allowed to die a dishonorable death with this election cycle.