Think of a presidential primary campaign like a boisterous family discussion around the holiday dinner table. Everyone has his or her own ideas, many disagree, and the arguments are loud, lively, and passionate.

This seems especially true on debate nights, when it feels like the candidates have brought their ideas, their barbs and their zippy one-liners right into our living rooms. And yes, the debates can be a slog—to wit, the increasingly torturous questions about paying for various health care plans—but at their best the candidate debates are the rare chance to hear inspired rhetoric and a finely articulated vision of the best version of America we can be.

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