It’s way too early to be talking about debates in the presidential election.
Still, the pundit-sphere is on it already.
The debates are already shaping up to be a charade on the Republican side, and as far as I know no one is talking about debates yet in the Democratic camp (no one knows how that’s going to work out).
Look, the basic problem with the debates is that voters aren't clamoring for them. Viewership is laughably small, and most self-acknowledged viewers don’t watch to the very end.
The candidates want the debates because they’re free air time and because the format really isn't a debate format---basically, the pols get to say whatever they want, and they work real hard to avoid saying anything new.
Maybe we could try this format: candidates themselves agree on who will (or will not) be on the stage, that is, each candidate mutually agrees with other(s) to participate. No sponsoring network. Open feed for all networks that want to carry the debate. No moderator. Candidates alternate in speaking. Each candidate gets five 4-minute segments to say anything she or he wants to say. Flip a coin to see who goes first.
Thousands of people repeatedly showed up for the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, and they stood quietly in a field for a couple hours straining to listen because there weren’t any microphones. No moderators, no prepared questions, no commercial interruptions. The candidates actually responded to each other, and they actually said meaty stuff, and the news coverage wasn’t mostly about the gotchas.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.