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Monday, May 18, 2015

Too many candidates? How to remedy the presidential debates

In the past few days I've seen a lot of commotion about the first Republican presidential "debate", set for a few months from now.  The biggest deal is about the number of candidates who may appear on the stage: some are counting as many as 19.  And there's the mess going on right now with George Stephanopoulos: the ABC whateverhedoes and how he donated $75,000 to the Clintons: common sense would be that no "journalist" that blatantly compromised would serve as moderator for any debate, much less a Republican one.

Then again, I haven't been impressed by any moderator of presidential politics in recent years.  Don't even get me started on the Fox News guy who blatantly asked Ron Paul during one of the early debates if he seriously thought he was a presidential contender.  If that wasn't biased journalism, then I don't know what is.

Back to the amount of candidates.  Actually, we can address the moderator issue as well.  There is a very simple solution.  Of course this being about the politics and power of high office, don't expect it to be adopted:

All 19 candidates in a row on stage.  The moderator asks one question to all of the candidates.  Then in random order each candidate gives his response, with a minute of time allotted for his or her answer.  No rebuttals.

It's not a "debate" in the fullest sense of the term.  More of a candidates forum.  And it's worked before.

When I ran for board of education some years ago, there were 16 candidates running for five seats.  There were two forums for candidates to express their views.  There was a televised forum, which due to studio space constraints had us going in front of the camera three at a time, and there was a public forum at one of the county's elementary schools.  Fifteen candidates total took to the stage (another candidate refused to come and tried to make a ridiculous spectacle of it later on).  I think we got in 5 or 6 questions total.  It ran quick and smooth, and everyone came away from it informed about the candidates.

It also served to engender no animosity among the candidates or toward the moderator.  When everyone is getting asked the same question, without room for obvious bias on the part of the alleged journalist doing the moderating, well... it makes for a debate that is more even-keel for all involved.

Fifteen candidates doing a debate.  That was completely fair and unbiased in regard to anyone.

Don't tell me it can't be done.  It can.  I should know.  I was there.  I was one of the candidates.

But I'm not expecting my recommendations to meet with any approval from either the Republican or Democrat parties, or the media giants who perpetuate the weary drama between them.  My suggestions are meant for a better sort of citizenry.  Maybe someday, in the not-too-distant future, those people will rise to the task and take charge of this country away from the corrupt and the power-mongers.