Here we are (I’m on the left, Bobby Shriver is in the middle, Sharon Waxman on the right), as the vote comes in, telling us that we “won” last night’s debate against Gray Davis, Lawrence O’Donnell and Van Jones.
The motion, as a reminder, was:
California is the first failed state
and we argued For.
We won because we moved more audience members in our favor.
Before the debate, 31% voted For the motion, 25% Against, and 44% were Undecided.
After the debate, 58% voted For, 37% Against, and only 5% were still Undecided.
I’ll be posting the full video here on Friday (Update: I have now posted the video), but just a few remarks.
First, it was great fun. As soon as the debate was over, we went to dinner together (“we’re living a Woody Allen movie,” somebody said as we descended into the quaint, subterranean New York restaurant) and had a great time. I talked for a long time to Gray Davis and his wife Sharon, and they were much more interested in discussing California (and that recall) than the debate proposition. I learned a lot.
Second, as you will have guessed already if you’re a regular reader of The Hannibal Blog, I was savoring the irony of the evening: I’ve been writing a lot about “good and bad conversations”, both here and in The Economist, and have argued that conversations in which one side tries to win are what Socrates considered “eristic” and thus “bad,” whereas conversations in which all participants are looking for the truth are “dialectic” and thus “good.”
Well, we were all trying to “win” last night, but now that it’s over it’s time to say that this was just a great, fun game. The real way to “win” was to edify and entertain the audience and ourselves, to spar and to learn, and we apparently did that. (If you were in the audience, feel free to agree or disagree below. ;))
So the goddess Eris was there, but she had her tongue in her cheek.
Second, and unrelated: What a difference a year makes! A bit over a year ago, I was telling you how I heroically resisted mile-high connectivity. Well, I’m posting this from the sky, in a Virgin America plane back home. And everybody around me is working on their laptops. We are all now Nomads, as I predicted. Don’t shrug because you’ve already done this, too. Don’t take it for granted yet. Join me, as Albert Einstein would, in wonderment.
I’ll have a thorough post-game analysis of the debate later this week.