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In Desperation for a New Debate Format…

I’m at a point where I kind of loathe watching the presidential debates because I think that the format is antiquated and does just about nothing to actually help us move the status quo forward with regards to helping the general public best pick our next President of the United States.

“You have two minutes to bicker incessantly about your opponent.”

“Ok, now you have a minute and a half to respond without actually offering an alternative…”

I know it may sound utopian to think that we should focus on the facts and hold our candidates responsible for the things they say when in today’s political climate it seems easy enough for supporters to “choose their own facts” and we’re so divided as a people that whatever the other party says barely seems to matter anyways … but I’m still a firm believer that getting the information out there and questioning it when things don’t add up is still the first step towards building the democracy that we teach about in textbooks rather than the polarized pissing match that tends to play out whenever we put candidates up on a stage together here in 2016.

We need to get away from the bitchiness and the mud-slinging and all of the negativity, and give people reasons to stop feeling like they’re voting for “the lesser of two evils,” and the only way to do that is to ensure that voters know what their own candidate stands for – not just what their opponent doesn’t.

What I’d like to see is a complete overhaul of the debate process, to the point where it wouldn’t so much be a debate anymore but more so a televised job interview for the highest office in the land. 

For starters, the candidates won’t be allowed to talk to each other, or about each other. Period. 

The goal of our new job interview debate format is to explain why YOU deserve to be our next President of the United States, not why the other candidate doesn’t.

For moderation, we’re not as concerned about political bias – in fact, pick the most hard-hitting, detail-oriented journalists that we can find because we’re going to have two moderators … one from each side … because each is going to interview the opposing party’s candidate, though we the people should still have expectations that these moderators will ask important policy-oriented questions and not just attack the candidate’s media soft spots.

In fact, the questions up for debate will be chosen together as a committee that also includes policy experts on each side who will be available during the debate for fact checking live during the broadcast – because fact checking by the media afterwards isn’t really as effective if we miss out on the opportunity to actually call a candidate out on his or her bullshit live on national TV and charge them to explain themselves.

The questions will have no formal time limit – we take as long as the moderators think we need to get a decent explanation of each candidate’s policies – and if we have to break the “debates” up into several segments to cover everything, then so be it. If the American people can tolerate it through a season of American Idol, they can handle episodic debates as we strive to pick the next leader of the free world!

One important note – possibly the most important – is that if at any time during their response a candidate strays from their own qualifications to mention their opponent, a loud buzzer sounds and their time to speak is immediately over.

They’ll stand next to each other as they’re grilled by their moderators, and I don’t even care if they make funny faces at each other while the other is trying to speak, but the point is that we want to hear – we deserve to hear – what qualifies each of these people to be our next President of the United States. We deserve to hear substance and experience, not banter about whatever the latest soundbites were that came to light just before the debates were set to air…

We can still talk about controversy, whether it’s Hillary’s emails or Trump’s vulgar mouth, but let’s talk about it and then move on. Every debate question of the night shouldn’t circle back to the same anti-opponent talking points because we need to know where these candidates stand on the issues, not just the mishaps of their opponent. Maturity and leadership qualities are important, but so are positions on foreign policy and the economy and healthcare and the environment.

The Presidential debates as they stand today do little more than to serve the people who’ve already made up their minds and are just eager for even more political fodder to lob at supporters of the other side, so if we truly want politicians who are responsible for the things that they say and do, what better place to start holding their feet to the fire than while they’re still interviewing to try and get the job in the first place?!

People will tune in tonight to see how Hillary hits Trump about the vulgar sex comments that came out last week, and likewise how he volleys back with arguments about the adultery that Hillary’s husband committed and how she reacted when it came to light … and these are all relevant in framing each candidate’s character, no doubt. But the presidency is bigger than just those things, and we shouldn’t let either of the candidates monopolize our time by only focusing on the negative things about their opponent that they want to talk about.

Give the people all of the pieces to the puzzle and then let them decide which are the most important to earn their votes. But they need to see all of the pieces to the puzzle – not just the ones that made the biggest news headlines on their media network of choice.

Let’s talk about why YOU deserve to be our next President of the United States – seriously, this time.

Media Credit: © karenfoleyphoto / Adobe Stock