Lincoln fucked us. Douglas, too, but mostly Lincoln. The Lincoln/Douglas debates were like the moon landing: they set an untouchable American standard that can only be used as a sad comparative. If we can put a man on the moon dubble dubble wubble.
There were seven meetings between the two men: they were running for Senate in Illinois, kinda (the House used to appoint Senators, but people would also campaign; it was complicated) and discussing slavery, which was of interest at the time. It was a big deal, and papers sent stenographers who would wire back the full text, which was reprinted in full; this may not seem like such a big deal, but what else could they have done? They used the telegraph, they printed it in the paper, and later they compiled all the debates into a book and sold that, and that’s it; that’s all the technology they had.
Anyway, Lincoln and Douglas met at a college and aimlessly wandered around a stage giving either robotic semi-answers to questions, or threatening to jail their opponent.
Oh, right: that’s the nightmare that is today.
Still better than 1858.
It was a trap!
Ha HA! But seriously, here’s why: last night’s debate was not on the topic of owning other human beings, with one of the participants advocating the practice, and that view being culturally acceptable.
Yes, what occurred on television and the innertubes the other night facetiously called a “debate” was like watching the last ten minutes of Old Yeller, but with the part of the dog being played by America, but slavery wasn’t up for discussion.
Also, the Lincoln/Douglas debates were incredibly boring: one talked for 60 minutes, then the other for 90, and then the first rebutted for 30; plus they stood at podiums and comported themselves with a little dignity. No good memes at all.