WANTED (Dead or Alive): Modern Political Debate
While I can’t say that I was overly thrilled with or impressed by Rick Tyler’s discussion, I was intrigued by what he had to say about political debate reform. But before I delve into his propositions, let me begin by affirming my overwhelming dislike for the modern concept of a political debate. Every time I sit down to watch a debate (which is rare, sporadic, and generally only within a month of an election), I find that by the end of the night I’m just as disappointed as I’d expected. Rarely, if ever, do I gain insight into a candidate’s character, or learn something about them that I couldn’t have read, verbatim, from their campaign website. Usually each candidate is allowed so many seconds to respond to a carefully crafted and premeditated question that doesn’t come from their opponent, but rather, from an unaffiliated third party. Is this crazy, or am I?? I want to see the candidates and the candidates alone conversing with each other, asking the tough questions, and being capable of coming up with the clever answers on the spot. Leave the mediator at home, please. Cut the strict time limits and the tedious rules. I want to see a raw presentation of the person who could potentially be the next “leader of the free world,” (as Tyler referred to it through thinly veiled conservativism).
This brings me to Tyler’s theory of debate reform. Though he devoted a shockingly small portion of his speech to this topic (the drawings on the blackboard didn’t suffice for me), I thought he made some valid points. First of all, I agree, to an extent, that political debate between members of the same party can seem redundant and overtly liberal or conservative. I do not, however, think that this type of debate should be eliminated from the campaign process altogether. I think that this type of debate is fundamental and crucial for each party in determining who is best suited for the race, but I think there is definitely room for reform. Tyler went on to suggest that political debate should consist of one candidate from each party, on a stage, partaking in a healthy, unscripted, unsupervised debate. I definitely agree with this theory, and I look forward to the day that this debate takes place. However, I want to add to this dream and suggest that every candidate, and yes that includes candidates of the somewhat taboo parties such as the Libertarian or Green Party, be a participant in our nation’s notorious prime time debates. I think that all candidates, regardless of the status of their membership in mainstream parties, are deserving of our country’s attention and time. Needless to say, I hope to see in 2008 a variety of candidates in the debate scene, and with any luck, a lot less of the unnecessary mediator.