Stuff that matters


What’s that German word for waiting for a debate question on your issue, only to be crushed every time?

If you dedicate your time to advancing a cause, or happen to care a lot about a single problem in the world, you know the feeling: You think, maybe this time as you prepare to watch. Hour one passes. Now, they’ll have to turn to it. By the time the candidates are making their end remarks, you’re lucky if your issue gets more than a cursory mention. Even luckier if it receives a whole couple minutes of airtime.

If you care about what debate moderators treat as niche issues — reproductive rights, racism, gun policy, climate change, you name it — welcome to the personal hell of debates: It’s like going through the seven stages of grief, but in under two hours.

When one of those “niche” issues — climate change — does come up, it usually is framed as a future theoretical problem, not one that hurts people today. Though this election may determine whether the world’s fledging plan to tackle climate change ever becomes a reality, debate moderators and candidates are more likely to gloss over those points.

So far, these forums have been completely inadequate for a meaningful discussion of climate change. That’s as close as I’ll get to acceptance.