But who’d sit still for a ‘Lincoln-Douglas’ debate today?


Rep. Bakari Sellers reacted to Henry McMaster’s victory in his bid for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor as follows:

Rep. Bakari Sellers challenges Henry McMaster to five Lincoln-Douglas style debates across South Carolina 

Columbia, SC – State Representative and Democratic Nominee for Lt. Governor, Bakari Sellers, tonight challenged Republican Nominee Henry McMaster to a series of five Lincoln-Douglas style debates to be held across South Carolina during this summer and fall.

“Now that the nominees have been chosen, it’s up to the nominees to let the people hear how they stand on the important issues facing our state. Voters should be able to listen directly to the candidates discuss and debate issues and decide for themselves who has the best vision to lead our state as our next Lt. Governor”, said Rep. Sellers.

Sellers said that there are clear distinctions between the two candidates and he hopes to draw those distinctions during the upcoming months. Sellers said, “My opponent represents the status quo and is a decades long career politician who has been running for office for close to thirty years. This election is not about what was South Carolina was, nor what South Carolina is, it’s about what South Carolina can be. We have an opportunity to retire the “good-ole boy network” in Columbia.  Fresh leadership and fresh ideas is what I will bring to our great state as our next Lt. Governor.”

Sellers pointed out that the voters chose a little known state representative named Nikki Haley in the governor’s race over McMaster in 2010. Sellers’ campaign slogan is “We can do better,” and he hopes that South Carolina voters believe that as well.


Rep. Sellers is from Denmark, SC and represents House District 90 which covers parts of Bamberg, Barnwell and Colleton Counties. He is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Sellers is a candidate for Lt. Governor. The campaign’s website is www.sellers2014.com.

Sellers offered this definition of such a debate:

In a Lincoln/Douglas debate, the person speaking in support of the issue, called the Affirmative, is allowed a six minute segment to construct their argument. The opposition, or Negative, then has three minutes to ask questions of the affirmative, followed by seven minute to state the Negative case and argue against the Affirmative. The Affirmative has three minutes to cross-examine, then is allowed four minutes to rebut, using evidence from both their argument and the Negative argument. The Negative is allowed a final six minutes to rebut, summarize and plead for support from the judges, followed by a similar three minute period for the Affirmative. Including preparation time, the entire debate round takes approximately 45 minutes.

Yeah, well, that’s not the way I remember it from the history books. Forty-five minutes would have been considered just warming up in those days:

Lincoln and Douglas agreed to debate in seven of the nine Illinois Congressional Districts; the seven where Douglas had not already spoken. In each debate either Douglas or Lincoln would open with an hour address. The other would then speak for an hour and a half. The first then had 30 minutes of rebuttal.

But who today would sit still for, and listen to, such a marathon? No one, that’s who. So yeah, a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate today would have to be greatly streamlined…

8 thoughts on “But who’d sit still for a ‘Lincoln-Douglas’ debate today?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, that’s the other thing. There’s a lack of burning issues in a lt. gov. debate.

      Certainly nothing like what Lincoln and Douglas were arguing about, which was no less than the fate of the nation…

      1. Silence

        Yes, I don’t know what “issues” there really are to debate here. Both candidates are using the Lt. Governor’s office as a platform from which to launch a future campaign for Gov, in my estimation, so maybe they could just debate state government issues in general.

          1. Silence

            I propose a Lincoln-Douglas style debate between Caskey & Brad. The topic will be which social club is better. Capital City vs. Palmetto. Begin.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Well, now, having just eaten at the Palmetto Club yesterday and having had a perfectly lovely salmon salad in the newly constructed, airy Tap Room, and Bryan having been so generous as to pay for it, I couldn’t possibly say anything bad about it.

              It’s a very fine club, as long as you don’t mind being down on the level of the sidewalk, with all the grit and car exhaust and everything, and having to look up at the hind end of the Supreme Court next door. If you want something a bit loftier, and many do, well…. 🙂

            2. Mark Stewart

              Where’s my 11 foot pole? Discretion reigns with such topics of local interest…

    2. Barry

      Agree- just a cheap publicity stunt- and a huge waste of time.

      It would be like holding 4 hour interviews to decide which plumber to hire to unclog your toilet.

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