Bringing back the civilized debate

I tend not to watch much of the programming on cable news channels. While I try to stay as informed as possible, quite honestly the partisan pandering from either side makes my head spin after a while.

Plus, if it’s national news I want to learn, I can always look through the Associated Press wires or whatever sites happen to pop up through the various web browsers.

I’m simply not into networks where the variety of the programming is dedicated, not to reporting the news, but to telling people why this party is bad for America or the other party is made up of idiots and those who follow either party are blind or mind-controlled.

It’s one thing to discuss the issues, or even have an informed debate, but to be spoken down to and be told your opinions on a subject are wrong just because of the way you vote, to me, is something we don’t need.

And yet, these programs are among some of our nation’s highest rated during the prime time hours.

That’s why I was intrigued when I heard CNN was bringing back “Crossfire” after many years of absence from our television screens.

I’ve checked the show out a couple of times since it returned, and, while I’m sure there are some out there who think it needs some work, I like at least the idea and hope to see it continue.

I wasn’t that old the last time the show was on, so I can’t really compare the two versions, but the idea is pretty much the same.

A rotating panel of four individuals with various news or political backgrounds, usually two Democrats and two Republicans, face off for half an hour with guests to debate a couple of topics from the day’s events.

Yes, they actually debate the issues. They go into it knowing there are going to be those who won’t agree with them, but they express their opinions to give a different viewpoint on the issue.

They don’t sit there calling each other names, or not letting the other person finish their thought. They discuss the issue and when it’s done, it’s done. They shake hands and move on.

It’s something we’ve seemed to have lost in America.

Instead of simply stating our opinion, hoping others will be willing to listen to our side and then being respectful enough of others’ opinions, we have reduced ourselves to finger-pointing and name-calling. Democrats are evil if you are a Republican, and Republicans are the same if you’re a Democrat.

The problem is most visible in the halls of Congress, where it has become a game of one-upmanship instead of trying to do what’s best for the country.

It honestly amazes me sometimes that any legislation does get passed these days with such attitudes.

I know this kind of political situation will not change overnight. It probably will never change, and may even get worse for all we know.

But wouldn’t it be nice to see some actual discussion and true debate on the issues instead of simply because of the letter after the name of the person sponsoring a piece of legislation?

Wouldn’t it be nice to tune into a television program, hoping to learn about what is going on in the world without seeing a host tell a guest their thought’s don’t matter because they don’t fall in line with what the host feels is right?

I don’t know. Maybe this disparaging attitude has always existed and we were just better at hiding it.

Maybe none of them have ever respected each other, but they were told to pretend.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we could return that seemingly more civilized political climate in this nation?

Wouldn’t it be a good thing to see our elected leaders standing across from each other, expressing their opinions, countering points and then shaking each other’s hands when it was over and moving on to the next thing?

Maybe we could turn some things around for this country and make it better for the future.

Who knows what we could accomplish with just a little bit of civilized debating every now and again.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)