Presidential Debates

You haven’t been living under a rock, have you? No? Excellent. So you know that there’s an election coming up here in the United States. Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for President is the most important race. But I’m not here to say one way or the other where I fall on things – of course, you might be able to guess from what I say … we’ll see. What I’m here to talk about is the concept of presidential debates; what’s right about them and what’s wrong about them, and maybe even how I’d fix them.

What’s Right

  • That there are debates at all is right.
  • That candidates occasionally challenge each other is right, if only because it’s a break from recitation of the stump speeches they’ve been giving for months.
  • That there are separate debates on separate topics is right.
  • That CSPAN covers the debates with only callers as the post-debate analysts is right.

What’s Wrong

  • That there are ridiculously specific rules about the length of speaking turns and there isn’t a single person in the room who follows the rules is wrong.
  • That candidates recite paragraphs of their stump speeches in answer to specific questions is wrong, if only because it’s an insult to the intelligence of the people they want to vote for them.
  • That there are only three debates is wrong. “Foreign Policy” and “Domestic Policy” are too broad and don’t cover enough.
  • That anyone from MSNBC or FOXNews thinks they can tell me what I just heard, because maybe I’m too stupid to understand, and tell me who won and who didn’t is, a thousand times over, wrong.

How I Would Run Them

  • The minute the clock hit the end of someone’s time, their mic would be switched off. No questions, no protests. Unless someone is willing to run across the stage and shout into his opponent’s mic, they’d be done.
  • I wouldn’t have moderators, they just muddy the issues. All questions would be submitted by the audience and the candidates would randomly pull slips of paper out of a ball.
  • There would be separate debates for each issue; taxes, job creation, climate change, energy, education, war, foreign aid, etc.
  • All networks that cover the debate would need to run an infomercial for half an hour before they start post-debate coverage, in which they can then tell me what to think.

So, that’s what I think about presidential debates. What do you think? Do they work perfectly as they are? What would you change? Or keep the same?


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