Yesterday (28), the presidential candidates participated in a debate held by a group of press vehicles, henceforth called “debate in the Band”. Some expectations were created around this debate because it would bring President Jair Bolsonaro and Lula face to face for the first time. Just thinking about it, in my head, Rocky’s theme song starts playing.
For those who believe in a high democracy, frustration is certain. Because electoral debate, in Brazil, is that whole thing in plaster. A technocrat who thinks he can control speech. Thirty seconds for the question, one minute for the answer, another minute for the reply. The assumption of this is that a “scientifically organized” debate helps to enlighten the voter. It is a wrong assumption.
Firstly because on a Sunday, at 21 hours, the voter is interested in anything other than an electoral debate. His head is full because his team lost in the Brasileirão round. Either he is full of face because the team lost or he, a voter, went too far at the barbecue. Or he’s anxious about the end of his break and the beginning of a rough week, and he doesn’t want to watch a bunch of people tell him how he should live his life or what economic theories he should believe.
If debates were really important to democracy and its troubled child, the electoral process, they would be held more frequently and aired at 16 on Sunday, instead of football. In fact, they would be held in a crowded football stadium. If debates were really important and minimally relevant, they would have the participation of people who would dispense with the foolishly rigid rules.
The assumption that a debate helps to enlighten the voter is also wrong because, despite all the propaganda by the TSE and the electoral authorities, an election is not a healthy confrontation of ideas. Far from it. After decades of distortions of all kinds, it is safe to say that the electoral process has turned into a dispute over loyalties. It no longer has anything to do with projects or worldviews.
It doesn’t matter what the candidate says or doesn’t say in interviews, free election time or debates. Few voters are able to radically change their vote because of what is or is not said by the candidate that they believe is not only the best, but mainly the only way out for the country . No one is willing to be convinced otherwise.
Yes, we have reached this point. If anything, we weren’t in it. We tend to romanticize debates as if they were representations of some Greek ideal. As if the cold studio of the TV station was the agora and those men in suits and ties were philosophers discussing advanced ideas not only of city-state management, but also of the best way to live and achieve happiness. But, if one day the debates sought to reflect this ideal of democracy, this project fell apart with the emergence of social networks. Which are nothing more than an endless debate with no winners. And there’s nothing wrong with that. New technologies appear and the ways of communicating also change.
(Soon, in the afternoon, I will comment on video the details of the debate at the Band. was “won” by Jair Bolsonaro).