Political Debate and the Duopoly Dialogue

At the Modern Left, J.D. provides a short history of the Commission on Presidential Debates, showing how it has figured in and affected the politics of presidential elections since its formation in 1987. In the description of its 'candidate selection process,' the CPD website emphasizes that it is a non-partisan corporation organized in a non-partisan manner. We read:
The mission of the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (the "CPD") is to ensure. . . a series of nonpartisan debates . . . [and] has developed nonpartisan, objective criteria upon which it will base its decisions.
As J.D. argues, however:
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to protect the images of both Democratic and Republican candidates. The CPD was formed by both the the Democratic and Republican parties to protect the two party system.
It is a bi-partisan rather than non-partisan group. Indeed, the co-chairs of the organization, apparently since its inception, have been Frank Fahrenkopf and Paul Kirk, former heads of the RNC and DNC respectively. These are not impartial individuals. (See, for instance, 'Two-Party Debates,' at CPI from September 2008.) In the transformation of 'bi-partisanship' into 'non-partisanship,' the political alchemists of the two-party state mask the dissimulation of factionalism in a simulation of objectivity that permeates our political discourse.

Consider the standard forms and presuppositions of the duopolized debate, from the presidential level to the most base cable news format. An issue is deemed exhausted once a Democrat and Republican have come to a disagreement. On the other hand, if the two sides are found to hold the same position, the matter is considered resolved, and the participants are congratulated for having reached a bipartisan consensus. However, it is worth noting that the bi-partisan front holds in both cases. The parties to the dispute 'agree to disagree' in the former, and 'agree to agree,' as it were, in the latter. Here the duopoly dialogue excludes positions that limit the sphere of debate or the sphere of consensus, as the case may be. Open debate and identity correction are two possible response strategies in such a situation.

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