I am currently in the process of watching this question-and-answer session with President Obama discussing policies and issues with Republican representatives in Baltimore, Maryland. Its taking ages for me to get through it because it sort of freezes up every few minutes, but it is extremely interesting. I want to see more of this type of open political discussion in the future! Its great that there is a format where the President can actually address the opposition and their concerns and criticisms. I recommend reading this article from the Huffington Post which also contains a link to a video of the entire session.
It is over an hour long, but in my opinion, it is both enjoyable and entertaining to see some real, constructive political conversation taking place. I also like it when he takes on the accusations from members of the Republican party that he is a ‘socialist’ or that his healthcare plan is part of a ‘bolshevik plot’! I was also really happy to hear him address the problem of politicians demonising their opponents and the current bitter tone on Capitol Hill. He challenged the current way so many politicians (for example, a number of the Republican congressmen and women in this session) frame questions in ways that skew facts, with the aim of placing blame on their opponents, and how this method acts primarily as a way for the questioner to score political points, at the expense of honest debate about issues in a mature and factual way. It was refreshing, and I was glad to see that particular problem in American politics addressed openly. Nice one, President Obama!
Apart from the fact that I think the President did a great job, I think having this type of question-and-answer thing regularly would be great for American politics. It’s informative, it provides opportunities for the opposition party to ask questions and challenge the president, it allows the American people to see an actual debate/conversation between our president and lawmakers in a big chunk, without having to rely on the media who cuts it up into sound-bites and easily manipulated bits that are taken out of context. I also think its downright entertaining, and I would definitely watch this regularly. I felt like I was actually learning something. I think its an engaging and useful way for us to see what our policy and law makers are up to, and a venue to have arguments and criticisms aired while also providing an opportunity for false claims and wrong information to be disputed. What do we have to do to get more of this?