Every Sunday, many Christians go to church. Every time Sarah Palin said “maverick,” many debate-watchers took a drink of beer. The churchgoers and debate-watchers both practice distinct forms of devotionalism, Omri Elisha writes for the Immanent Frame. Ritualized prayer and drinking games “give people reasons to pay closer attention to what’s happening before their eyes,” according to Elisha.
Like the Jewish tradition of a Minyan, where 10 people are required for prayer, debate drinking games facilitate engagement in a social setting. The parallel isn’t perfect, but the popularity of the debate drinking games shows the near-religious importance that’s being placed on the election. “In the absence of certainty and the growing instability of public faith,” Elisha writes, “something akin to secular devotionalism steps in to fill the gap.” During the debates, that devotionalism took the form of a drinking game.