The Presidential Candidate Debates Are a Circus, but a New Debate Format Can Fix That
When presidential debates become a media circus, it's the voters who lose. But an alternative debate format would eliminate the kind of candidate-moderator feud that is dominating our political moment.
John Donvan is co-author of In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, He is also a contributing correspondent to ABC News, where his career postings from the past thirty years have included: Chief White House Correspondent, Chief Moscow Correspondent, Amman Bureau Chief, Jerusalem Correspondent, London Correspondent, Eastern Europe Correspondent, and, most recently, a regular correspondent for Nightline. He is also a debate moderator at Intelligence Squared U.S..
John Donvan: The public is so politicized that if I were moderating a presidential debate and I were to say to one of the candidates, you know, you’re really off point and you’re not responding, everybody would think that that means I’m on the other guy’s side. And that doesn’t happen in the Intelligence Squared debates. I don’t know why, but the audience recognizes and understands that what I’m trying to do is to protect the integrity of the debate. That if I’m calling somebody for not really debating well, our audience gets it that what I’m trying to do is to make the debate better. Not help one side or the other. I think in the presidential debates the moderators if they don’t interrupt, it’s their fault for letting the debate run off the rails. And if they do interrupt, they get attacked for taking sides. And that’s why I think it’s a sort of no — it’s a very difficult situation. I actually think and we have proposed to the presidential debate commission that they do the debates our way. Have a stated motion, do an Oxford-style debate — at least one time. I would be happy to moderate it. You’re going to debate about for and against this motion. You’re going to be okay with me interrupting. You won’t take it as an insult. You won’t take it as me taking sides. And may the best person win.
Our presidential debate moderators are stuck in an impossible position: Either they allow candidates to spin and not give real answers to questions, or, when they interrupt and insist on a genuine response, they're interpreted as having a personal agenda. The results are a politicized public, a suspicious pool of candidates, and the loss of a democratic forum.
John Donvan, moderator of the Intelligence Squared U.S. debates, has proposed an alternate debate format to fix the current circus that are our presidential debates: an Oxford-style debate, or parliamentary debate, where a topic is set for the entire evening and candidates take a "for" or "against" position. This format keeps candidates from fearing "gotcha" questions, allows moderators to enter the debate without fear of reprisal, and preserves what is intended to be a uniquely democratic forum.
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Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade, thanks to higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black. We're not ruling it out. These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Here's why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.
- Universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality, says Rushkoff.
- Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
- Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
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