Political debates make me anxious. Maybe it’s all the not answering of questions or the off-topic attacks or the tick-tock of the answer clock. Nevertheless, I feel that they’re important to watch. So how, then, shall we all survive the election season?

Four Debate Viewing Tips

  • Watch with friends and community.
    It takes the edge off to be around people you know and love. And it helps remind you that the world is not completely crazy. And maybe your friends, like mine, are snarky and clever, and will make you laugh in the midst of it.
  • Talk to the TV.
    Political debates can be endlessly frustrating and angry making (e.g., “Did he really just say THAT?!”). Sometimes it just helps to talk back.
  • Have a drink.
    Beer, wine, pineapple juice, ginger ale, whatever the drink of your choice. Might loosen the tension that slowly builds over the course of the debate or keep you hydrated, depending on your preferences. Both of which can come in handy.
  • Pay attention.
    Even though they can be crazy making, they give you a clear picture of candidates’ talking points and approach to an election. And they give you a starting point for further research. Be an informed voter. I should have paid more attention when I watched the first Warren-Brown debate, but I wasn’t following my other tips and I just got too stressed out by the whole hullabaloo. Next time I will be prepared!

Why Even Watch the Debates?

The political is personal, and knowledge is power. The decisions that are made every day by lawmakers and people in power affect our lives in a very real way. The Affordable Care Act means people close to me will have access to affordable health care (imagine that!) that they didn’t before. Scary laws being proposed (and unfortunately too often passed) limiting access to reproductive freedom, from abortion to birth control, have very real practical consequences. Yes, the political system in our country is effed up—but we’re not going to change it by disengaging.

The Details

If you’re in Massachusetts, don’t miss the rest of the debates between Elizabeth Warren (love her!) and Scott Brown (really don’t love him):

And the Obama-Romney presidential debates:

On a related note: make sure you’re registered to vote and know what you need at the polls!