Definition of Debate

Imagine two people with different ideas. They talk about their thoughts in front of others, each trying to show why their ideas are good. This is a debate, a special kind of discussion about a specific topic. The people in a debate share their points of view, give reasons for their ideas, and also say why they think the other person’s ideas might not be right. They’re not just trying to win the debate; they want other people, like a judge or an audience, to believe their ideas are the best after hearing all the evidence and reasons shared.

Another way to see it is like a sports game for your brain. The players are the debaters who use their words, knowledge, and quick thinking as tools. The rulebook is the specific debate format they follow, and the goal is to score points by making strong, well-supported arguments while also blocking the other side’s attempts to do the same. Just like in sports, there’s a spirit of respect and fair play. By the end, the hope is that the best ideas win, just like the best team wins in sports, after a fair and honest competition.

How to Guide for Debating

  1. Choose a Topic: First, pick something interesting to discuss that people have different opinions about.
  2. Research: Look for information everywhere you can to make a strong case for why your side of the topic is correct.
  3. Understand the Format: Learn the rules of the debate, like how long you get to talk and in what order.
  4. Prepare Your Arguments: Think up several strong points to explain why you’re right, and find facts or stories to back them up.
  5. Practice: Try out your arguments and think about what the other side might say so you can have smart answers ready.
  6. Listen: Pay close attention to what the other people in the debate say so you can give good responses.
  7. Present and Defend: Speak clearly and confidently, stick up for what you believe, and ask tough questions about what the other side says.
  8. Conclude: Wrap up by reminding everyone of your strongest points and end with something powerful that people will remember.

Types of Debate

Debates can come in all shapes and sizes, especially when talking about American politics. Here are two common types kids might see on TV:

  • Policy Debate: Imagine a team trying to convince everyone that a new rule or change in the law is a good (or bad) idea.
  • Candidate Debate: Picture politicians running for office, each trying to show that their plans and ideas are the best ones for the job.

Examples of Debate

Debates happen all the time, on TV, in government buildings, and even in schools. Here are a few examples:

  • Presidential Debates: Two or more people who want to be the president speak on TV, sharing their ideas and plans for the country. It’s important because it helps people decide who might make the best president.
  • Congressional Debates: Members of Congress have serious talks about new laws or big issues, trying to decide the best path forward for everyone. This matters because the decisions they make can affect the whole nation.
  • Local Government Debates: Leaders from your community discuss problems close to home and try to find solutions. These debates affect your streets, schools, and more.
  • Public Policy Forums: Experts and people who care about things like how we teach kids or take care of sick people come together to talk about how to make things better. Public opinions can be shaped by these discussions.

Why is Debate Important?

Debate is like the engine of a car for democracy—it keeps everything moving. Here’s why it’s so important:

  • Provides Clarity: Debates help make it clear what politicians and political parties want to do, like a map for their plans.
  • Promotes Informed Voting: By listening to debates, voters can better understand who to vote for, like choosing the right tool for a job.
  • Encourages Critical Thinking: Debates get people to think hard about different ideas, like solving a puzzle.
  • Fosters Public Engagement: They create chances for people to get involved in deciding what happens in their town or country.
  • Checks Power: They also make sure politicians can’t just say or do things without being questioned.

For the average person, debates are kind of like reviews for a movie or a video game. They give you the pros and cons so you can make a smart choice, like which movie is worth watching or which candidate is worth voting for. They help everyone understand and take part in the big decisions of our country.

Origin of Debate

Debate didn’t just start yesterday. It’s been around since ancient times. In places like Greece and Rome, debates were a big deal and a normal part of everyday life. As time went on, people made rules for debates to make sure they were fair and useful. Debates became a real tradition in American politics, starting way back with famous talks like the Lincoln-Douglas debates about a huge topic: slavery.


Debates are super helpful, but sometimes they can cause disagreements or issues. Here’s why:

  • Bias and Partiality: Sometimes people think that the person asking the questions in a debate is unfair or taking sides, which can make the debate seem not right.
  • Sound Bites Over Substance: People worry that debates are more about catchy lines than deep, serious talk.
  • Misinformation: When debaters occasionally use facts that aren’t true, it can trick people and sway what they think.
  • Exclusion of Third Parties: Often, debaters who aren’t from the two main political parties don’t get to join the big debates, which seems unfair to some people.

Additional Considerations

There’s more to debates than just what gets spoken on the stage. Here are some extra things to know:

Role of Media

The news and social media can change how people see the debates. They can highlight certain points or opinions, which might make people think differently about what was said.

Preparation and Strategy

Being good at debates, like a lot of things, takes practice. Politicians train hard, even having fake debates, to get really good at making their case.

Public Perception

Sometimes, the way a debater acts or comes off to the audience can matter just as much as or more than what they actually say. Strong confidence or a friendly smile can win people over.

Impact on Elections

Debates can really change an election. If someone does really well or really badly, it can turn the tide in their favor or against them.

Related Topics

Besides debates, here are a few related things that you might find interesting:

  • Public Speaking: It’s like debate but instead of arguing points, it’s more about giving information or inspiring an audience. You still need to be clear and engaging.
  • Critical Thinking: This is a skill that lets you understand and evaluate ideas deeply, and it’s super important for making good arguments in a debate.
  • Civics Education: Learning how your government works helps you understand what politicians are talking about in debates and why certain issues matter.


In the end, debating in American politics is a way for people to talk and think about big ideas that can change how we live. It’s not only about winning an argument, but also about helping everyone decide who and what is best for the future of the country. Debating helps keep our democracy alive by making sure all voices get heard and the best ideas can shine. So, understanding debates can give you the power to be a part of the decisions that shape our world.