By: Paul Gregorio
“What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate”
It’s time for a new format for so-called presidential “debates.” Calling these childish food fights debates with three or more “children” yelling at the same time, is profoundly stupid, degrading, denigrating, and utterly insulting to citizens. We learn almost nothing from such immature behavior except to wonder if, as President, any or all of them would behave that way when engaging Putin, Xi Jing Ping, Netanyahu, or Zelensky. One shudders at such an image.
First, Who decided that so-called “news” people are at the top of the food chain of potential “moderators” at presidential debates? Who decided they — any of them — are the paragons of virtue, truth, knowledge, and intelligence, or that they — any of them — are founts of all knowledge presidential? Probably someone in the Federal Election Commission. That person’s sanity must be held in suspicion.
Second, how about a new format. Rather than “all-knowledgeable” news persons (or should I say know-nothing) people running the “show,” how about truly knowledgeable people — true subject matter experts? We have in existence countless so-called “think tanks,” entities that specialize in specific subject matter. For example, on foreign affairs, wouldn’t it make more sense to have intelligent questions be posed by, say, the Council for Foreign Relations, and/or the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace? On the economy, how about The Heritage Foundation and/or the National Bureau of Economic Impact? Or, on immigration, how about the Human Rights Institute and/or the Center for Immigration Studies? Pick a subject and there is a think tank who studies that subject matter exclusively and in-depth, uncluttered with other subjects that are dealt with by other think tanks. According to thebestschools.org, in 2021 there were 1984 think tanks in the US!
There are any numbers of primary subjects that have been dealt with in debates of the past. E.g., foreign affairs, economy, health, health insurance, manufacturing, big-pharma, big-tech, immigration, inflation, social security, the federal budget, congress’ budgeting process, terrorism, military readiness, rogue terrorist nations, climate/weather, space exploration, lawlessness, the Constitution, school curricula, CRT, trans-people and LGBTQ1A+, abortion, free speech, gun rights, religion, weaponization of the government – both State and federal, etc., etc. For every subject, we can find one or more expert, knowledgeable think tanks. No mere news person can be expected to frame an intelligent, relevant question in all those and more areas of concern. Quite the contrary, the fact that a news person’s expertise is limited will reduce the topics they wade into. Case in point: for lack of an intelligent question, we had to endure the childish question “Who should be voted off the island.”
Third, no matter how many candidates are running, it seems very apparent that as the number of candidates increases, we enter the realm of diminishing returns, because they are prone to talk over each other (the likelihood of a food fight by children increases), and no amount of control by the moderator, time limits, bells, whistles, squirt guns, or gongs will cause polite, respectful sanity and a decipherable answer, things we assume are inherent in our candidates.
Here is one possible format scenario: In one session, two candidates face off against two think tanks on closely related topics, such as (1) the economy, inflation, the budget, and Congress’ budgeting process; or (2) health, big pharma, and the role of the CDC, NIH, FDA, etc.; or (3) national security and military preparedness; or (4) legal vs illegal immigration, Ellis Island, the wall, and invasion at the southern border; or (5) national security and the invasion at the southern border, or (6) central bank digital currency (CBDC) and the fate of the US dollar, or (7) lawlessness in America including the “defund police” movement and George Soros buying DAs across America, or (8) the all-out assault and over-the-top pursuit of a presidential candidate to “get him before he gets us.” Perhaps such topics with the same two think tanks could rotate to another pair of candidates, etc.
Perhaps several think tank teams and subject matter combinations can be set up ahead of time in a way that candidates can volunteer for the contingent teams of their own choosing, thus allowing the candidates to participate in the subject matter sessions with which they are most comfortable. In any case, pairing off two candidates against each other might just result in an actual tit-for-tat debate. Think Kennedy-Nixon!
The question arises as to which two candidates would be paired together in any contingent “group.” Also, would this scenario capture all possible pairs of candidate face-offs? Probably not if we have more than three or four candidates. It may seem silly, but how about some sort of playoff system such as that of the NFL or MLB? Yes, I am serious! Maybe based on reliable, unbiased polling? Or an apriori selection by interested voters?
How much of any of this is doable? I don’t know! But, what we have now is a “failure to communicate.” It ain’t working. You got a better idea?