Friday April 19, 2019
Home Politics Will Presiden...

Will Presidential debates influence impressionable Voters ? In ‘Volatile’ US Presidential Race, Candidates’ Debate Skills could be Key

The presidential debates are likely to impact judgements and skew the votes. Read to know more about the soon to be held smackdown

0
//
Donald Trump and Hillary clinton. Image source: VOA
  • The first of three presidential debates will be held September 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York
  • Trump has agreed to participate but says he wants to negotiate the debate conditions
  • With a smackdown, likely mass audiences are going to be tuning in to watch the debate

September 3, 2016: Debates are always a big part of any U.S. presidential campaign, but with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both having unusually low favorability ratings, this year’s debates could be more influential than usual.

“Because the electorate is so volatile this year, it doesn’t take nearly as much to get a loosely aligned voter to switch his allegiance,” Dan Schnur, director of the University of Southern California’s political institute, told The Associated Press.

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week, 41 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Clinton, while 56 percent have an unfavorable one.

It is the lowest rating Clinton has had in her quarter-century in national public life, the Post reported.

Trump fares worse in the new poll. Thirty-five percent of Americans have a favorable impression of him, compared with 63 percent unfavorable, the Postreported.

4 debates before November vote

The first of three presidential debates will be held September 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. NBC News anchor Lester Holt will moderate the event.

FILE - Republican U.S. presidential candidates Marco Rubio (L) and Donald Trump speak simultaneously at the debate sponsored by CNN for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential candidates in Houston, Texas, Feb. 25, 2016.
FILE – Republican U.S. presidential candidates Marco Rubio (L) and Donald Trump speak simultaneously at the debate sponsored by CNN for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential candidates in Houston, Texas, Feb. 25, 2016. Image Source: VOA

The second debate will be held October 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The event — to be co-moderated by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and ABC global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz — will be a town hall-style meeting, with questions coming from audience members and from people following the debate via social media.

The third debate, with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace as moderator, will be held October 19 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

CBS journalist Elaine Quijano will moderate the lone vice presidential debate between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence. It will be held October 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Trump wants to ‘negotiate’

Steve Scully of the cable news network C-SPAN will be a backup moderator for all four debates, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan group that organizes the events.

Clinton has said she will take part in all three debates.

Trump also has agreed to participate, but says he wants to negotiate the debate conditions. His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

With Trump in the mix, there’s also plenty of potential for shock value.

Maybe a smackdown?

“Mass audiences are going to be tuning in to look for a smackdown,” Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant, told the AP.

FILE - Democratic presidential candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. talk over each other during the Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina, Jan. 17, 2016.
FILE – Democratic presidential candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. talk over each other during the Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina, Jan. 17, 2016. Image source: VOA

In the primaries, Trump grabbed the spotlight in the opening minutes of the first of a dozen GOP debates, when he was the only candidate to refuse to rule out a third-party run for president. The Republican primary debates were often raucous affairs, with name-calling and candidates talking over each other. Moderators often had trouble keeping the debate on track.

The nine Democratic debates showcased Clinton as an experienced debater, although the highlight may have been Bernie Sanders’ curt dismissal of all the attention being paid to Clinton’s “damn emails.”

Knockout unlikely

Over the past half-century, general election debates have offered plenty of moments of televised high drama, but knockouts are rare.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan shone in his debate against then-President Jimmy Carter, scolding him with a gentle “there you go again,” and posing a pointed closing question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Pollsters reported a resulting sharp shift in public opinion, said Alan Schroeder, author ofPresidential Debates: Forty Years of High-Risk TV.

Two decades earlier, in the first televised debates, Richard Nixon, appearing sickly and unprepared, never recovered from his disastrous performance in the first of three 1960 debates with then-Senator John F. Kennedy, who would win the presidency.

This year, given Trump’s unpredictability, “You’ve got a recipe for a highly combustible situation,” Schroeder said of the debates. “For viewers, it creates a scenario that virtually compels them to watch.

“Anything that happens on that stage will therefore be magnified exponentially,” he added. (VOA)

Next Story

“They Don’t Make Prayerful Offerings When They Harvest,” Story Of The Native American Church

“The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

0
Church
The sun sets over the gateway of peyotera Amada Cardenas's house in Mirando City, Texas. Ironwork reflects core Native American Church values of faith, hope, love and charity. VOA

Back in the day, when the “grandmas and grandpas” of the Native American Church (NAC) needed peyote, they would make a 2,000-kilometer pilgrimage from the reservations of South Dakota to the tiny town of Mirando City, Texas, close to the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s where they could find Amada Cardenas, a Mexican-American woman who at the time was the only peyote dealer in Texas.

Cardenas was not Native American, nor was she a member of the NAC. But she understood how sacred the medicine was to church members and defended its use as a religious sacrament to those who sought to ban it.

Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994.
Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994. VOA

“After Amada’s passing, the peyote distribution system lost heart and seemed to be about monetary compensation,” said Iron Rope, former chairman of the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) and today chairman of the NAC of South Dakota. He is concerned that the remaining three or four peyote dealers in Texas — all non-Native — don’t give “the medicine” the reverence they should.

“They don’t make prayerful offerings when they harvest,” Iron Rope said. “We’ve heard reports about intoxicated harvesters. Sometimes, the medicine that comes to us was mushy or small, and the harvesting technique was not one that would allow regrowth.”

Careless and sometimes illegal harvesting, along with increased land and resource development in Texas, has led to a decline in peyote’s quality and availability. Prices have gone up, and church members worry the cactus, now listed as a vulnerable species, could become endangered.

In 2013, NACNA began researching ways to conserve peyote and its natural habitat.

Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico.
Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico. VOA

Pan-Native religion

Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a succulent that contains psychoactive alkaloids and only grows in southern Texas and a handful of states in northern Mexico.

Indigenous people have used it ceremonially and medicinally for centuries, as noted by 16th century Spanish missionaries, who condemned it as an evil. Peyote use persisted, however, and by the late 1800s, had spread to present-day Oklahoma, where tribes adapted it to suit their individual spiritual traditions.

In the face of government efforts to ban peyote, peyotists in the early 20th century sought to incorporate as a formal religion. In 1918, an intertribal group established the NAC, which has evolved to include tens of thousands of members across dozens of tribal nations. Members view the church as an important component of healing from historic trauma and reconnecting to tradition.

Peyote was banned in the United States in 1970, but the law was later amended to allow peyote to be used in “bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church.”

Texas allows several peyoteros registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to harvest and sell peyote, but only to card-carrying NAC members with proven Native American ancestry.

Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007.
Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007. VOA

‘A beautiful ceremony’

Unlike other religious denominations, said Iron Rope, the NAC is not a unified theology.

“Different variations of the ceremony have come into play,” he said. “There are Christian aspects to the NAC today and traditional aspects, as well.”

Wynema Morris, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and an NAC member, grew up with an understanding of the sacredness of peyote and the religious etiquette surrounding its use.

“It was my own grandfather, Samuel Thomas Gilpin, who actually received peyote early on from the Winnebagos, a neighboring tribe, and passed it on to his sons, my uncles,” she said.

This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled "Cheyenne Peyote Leader." Courtesy: Library of Congress.
This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled “Cheyenne Peyote Leader.” Courtesy: Library of Congress. VOA

Peyote is much misunderstood and maligned, she said, viewed by many anthropologists through the lens of colonial prejudice.

“I don’t like their use of the word ‘hallucinations,’” she said. “You don’t use peyote to get high. You use it to pray and communicate with God — the same God everyone else talks to.”

She described all-night services of prayer, song and meditation.

“The ceremony is beautiful,” she said. “The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

Sacred gardens

In 2013, NACNA began looking at ways to conserve and sustain peyote for future generations of indigenous Americans, Mexicans and Canadians.

“It was our intent to eventually have our own land and be able to have our own peyote dealer who could understand our concerns as the Native American Church,” said Iron Rope.

The sun sets over "the 605," acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church.
The sun sets over “the 605,” acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church. VOA

In 2017, NACNA and partner organizations formally launched the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI). With funding from the Riverstyx Foundation, a nonprofit that supports research of medicinal uses of psychoactive plants, IPCI purchased 245 hectares (605 acres) of land in Thompsonville, Texas, to serve as “Sacred Peyote Gardens.”

Also Read: Practice What You Preach: Celebrities Should Stand By Their Public Image In Private Domain

It is their hope that by 2021, “the 605” will house a nursery, residential and guest housing, and youth training, all supported by peyote sales.

“It’s about generations to come,” said Iron Rope. “To reconnect them to the land and to the medicine. And that’s the healing process that we’ve been missing.” (VOA)