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Old 06-28-2019, 01:50 PM
Unreconstructed Man is offline
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How would you improve Presidential debate formats?


Iím watching the second Presidential debate on YouTube. Itís an absolute shitshow. Hereís how Iíd improve it.

1). No more than 5 candidates in any debate. Spread the favourites out among the debates to make sure no single debate gets ignored.

2). Fit electrodes into the spines of each candidate. Overrun your allotted time, you get shocked so bad you piss yourself. Interrupt another candidate, you get shocked twice. You think Iím joking? Iím not fucking joking.

3). Candidates will be asked the same question over again until they actually answer it. Even if it takes the whole two hours.

4). Candidates who change the subject during a question will have their mics turned off. Iím sick of candidates answering a question in the first 20 seconds and then spending the next 40 seconds talking about their signature issues.

5). All candidates get asked an equal amount of questions.

What would you do?
  #2  
Old 06-28-2019, 02:00 PM
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Make them swear an oath to tell the truth.

Have an army of fact checkers on hand to fact-check their statements in real time.

Caught in a lie? “Thanks for playing, see yourself out!”

Or maybe we could hook them all to lie detectors?

Last edited by elbows; 06-28-2019 at 02:00 PM.
  #3  
Old 06-28-2019, 02:11 PM
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I'd get rid of the debates, they are useless political theater and probably increase the prevalence of bad electoral outcomes.
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Old 06-28-2019, 04:43 PM
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I do not watch them because of the audience applause. It's clearly troubling how mindless it can get, like Castro going out of his way in support of abortion for trans women. That was applauded. It's also troubling if talking over others may be incentivized.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:17 PM
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I do not watch them because of the audience applause. It's clearly troubling how mindless it can get, like Castro going out of his way in support of abortion for trans women. That was applauded. It's also troubling if talking over others may be incentivized.
Think of it as practice for taking on trump.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:26 PM
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Follow actual formal debate rules. Seconding shock electrodes.
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Old 06-28-2019, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Unreconstructed Man View Post
Iím watching the second Presidential debate on YouTube. Itís an absolute shitshow. Hereís how Iíd improve it.

1). No more than 5 candidates in any debate. Spread the favourites out among the debates to make sure no single debate gets ignored.

2). Fit electrodes into the spines of each candidate. Overrun your allotted time, you get shocked so bad you piss yourself. Interrupt another candidate, you get shocked twice. You think Iím joking? Iím not fucking joking.

3). Candidates will be asked the same question over again until they actually answer it. Even if it takes the whole two hours.

4). Candidates who change the subject during a question will have their mics turned off. Iím sick of candidates answering a question in the first 20 seconds and then spending the next 40 seconds talking about their signature issues.

5). All candidates get asked an equal amount of questions.

What would you do?
I agree with #2 but would add: If you start talking when you were not called upon or another candidate did not mention you by name, you forfeit the next question. A second offense, your night is done.

3 or 4. If you have not begun to address the subject of the question within the first 15 seconds, your time is up and you forfeit the next question. A second offense, your night is done.

#5 I come from the opposite side. The front runners get the most questions. If you are at 0% in the polls and you are a goofy author, you sit in the dunk tank and let the front runner try to sink you with one throw. You make it, you stay in the debate.
  #8  
Old 06-28-2019, 07:45 PM
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In 1992, after the Democrats had whittled themselves down to Bill Clinton vs. Jerry Brown, Phil Donohue moderated a discussion between them. He introduced them, they talked. At some point they even talked directly to each other. Fortunately, the recording survives.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?25463-...-debate-taping
  #9  
Old 06-28-2019, 07:51 PM
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2). Fit electrodes into the spines of each candidate. Overrun your allotted time, you get shocked so bad you piss yourself. Interrupt another candidate, you get shocked twice. You think Iím joking? Iím not fucking joking.
Keep idea with simpler (IMO) elaboration: the moderator has a button that disconnects the candidate's microphone. Should be sufficient.


Meanwhile, I want moderators who will interrupt to say: "You do not appear to be answering the question". And if the candidate can't tie whatever they're blathering on about to the question within a short period of time, kill the mike once again.

What else? ---> I'd give each candidate a finite number of "buys" -- opportunities to hit a hot-button and indicate that they want to talk now, for example to reply to a question that had been posed to some other candidate, or to reply to what some other candidate said. These would be honored but candidate would get their microphones muted if they tried to just plow in without hittng their hot-button and waiting to be recognized.
  #10  
Old 06-28-2019, 08:06 PM
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Put them on teams and make them debate Oxford style?

"Resolved: War is good, actually. For the proposition, Mayor Pete, Joe Biden, and Hillary Rodham...Smith. For the opposition, Marianne Williamson, Tulsi Gabbard, and Bernie Sanders."
  #11  
Old 06-28-2019, 08:36 PM
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Keep idea with simpler (IMO) elaboration: the moderator has a button that disconnects the candidate's microphone. Should be sufficient.
The problem with that is that Mr. Tough Guy or Ms. Tough Gal will step over to the next podium and make some predetermined quip about how he/she will not be silenced/the American people are paying for this microphone/my supporters WILL be heard or some similar thing.
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Old 06-28-2019, 08:41 PM
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The problem with that is that Mr. Tough Guy or Ms. Tough Gal will step over to the next podium and make some predetermined quip about how he/she will not be silenced/the American people are paying for this microphone/my supporters WILL be heard or some similar thing.
Isolation booths.

Last edited by running coach; 06-28-2019 at 08:41 PM.
  #13  
Old 06-28-2019, 09:15 PM
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I'd start off by pairing down the field more aggressively. No one over 69, no one who lost their last election, no one who hasn't won their last two elections as a democrat, no one who hasn't either won a state wide office or a federal election. That would cut the field about in half and the debate could be run over two nights still but actually give people time to address issues.

While I enjoy the though of electrocuting politicians I think the better plan is all mics are off until the moderators turn them on and if you stop answering the question or never start your mic gets cut off, the question is reasked and you get one more chance to answer then we move on.

At this point polling only represents name recognition so I'd want equal time for each candidate for at least three debates or three months. At that point I'd start pairing down the field farther by eliminating everyone without at least 10% support nation wide or 50% in a single state with at least 9 electoral votes (that should give 25 states to choose from). I'd still want equal time though the debates should be a way for candidates to get their name a platform out to a national audience.

Lastly, I'd do the debate in a room without an audience. Playing to a crowd is annoying and either candidates has to waste time waiting to be heard or has trouble getting their message out. Plus choose the crowd is a way to put a finger on the debate by knowing in advance what will get cheered or booed.
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Old 06-28-2019, 11:13 PM
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I'd get rid of the debates, they are useless political theater and probably increase the prevalence of bad electoral outcomes.
I second the motion. All in favor?
  #15  
Old 06-29-2019, 06:02 AM
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Yeah get rid of all of them.

Campaign season needs to be cut in half too, you shouldn't be allowed to spend campaign or PAC money until Jan 1 of election year.

All the caucuses and primaries should be in July and the conventions in August. We need to shorten this shit up.

Last edited by UnwittingAmericans; 06-29-2019 at 06:07 AM.
  #16  
Old 06-29-2019, 06:17 PM
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Turn off microphones for all but one person at a time.

Allow longer time blocks, but turn off mic and camera after time is exceeded.

Turn off mic and camera if person strays from topic and forfeit the rest of the time block.

Limit questions to policy discussion. No questions like, "What about that time you sponsored a bill with scumbag so-and-so?"

Always require answers to include how proposals are to be paid for. Moderator to prompt candidate at 30-second-remaining mark if payment plan is not discussed up to that point.
  #17  
Old 06-29-2019, 09:41 PM
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Meanwhile, I want moderators who will interrupt to say: "You do not appear to be answering the question". And if the candidate can't tie whatever they're blathering on about to the question within a short period of time, kill the mike once again.
Sam Donaldson used to interrupt to say exactly that, and if the politician continued to non-answer, he'd eventually say, "since you don't want to answer the question, let's move along."

There's no evidence this approach ever had any effect on any politician, ever.

Last edited by Kent Clark; 06-29-2019 at 09:41 PM.
  #18  
Old 06-29-2019, 10:53 PM
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While I enjoy the though of electrocuting politicians I think the better plan is all mics are off until the moderators turn them on and if you stop answering the question or never start your mic gets cut off, the question is reasked and you get one more chance to answer then we move on.
I know I said something similar above, but I have flip-flopped. It gives too much power to a moderator, for one to ask a complex question to a candidate that he or she dislikes and then take an overly harsh position that the candidate is being non-responsive when actually the candidate is giving a reasonable answer.

Also, some questions are not easily answered directly. Like the question to Sanders if he would increase taxes on the middle class to pay for his Medicare-for-All program. His direct answer was yes, but the ins and outs of all that (and I'm not Bernie supporter by far) cannot be adequately explained in 60 or 120 seconds. So if what you are doing is looking for a headline the next day of "Sanders' plan will Raise YOUR TAXES!!!" then the moderator wins.

The soundbite drowns out the entire contours of the plan and leaves many details unanswered such as who is the middle class?, will the taxes be offset by savings, and how much of the total cost would the middle class pay. What would the cost/benefit of a guy making $50k a year be?

I don't think it is fair to be inordinately strict to a candidate who is attempting to put forth soundbites.
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Old 06-29-2019, 11:20 PM
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Sam Donaldson used to interrupt to say exactly that, and if the politician continued to non-answer, he'd eventually say, "since you don't want to answer the question, let's move along."

There's no evidence this approach ever had any effect on any politician, ever.
You don't do it in order to have an effect on the politician. You do it to have an effect on how the politician comes across to the viewers. (And that should include cutting the politician off so they're speaking into a dead microphone in front of the viewing audience)
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Old 06-30-2019, 12:05 AM
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I'd get rid of the debates, they are useless political theater and probably increase the prevalence of bad electoral outcomes.
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I second the motion. All in favor?
Aye.
  #21  
Old 06-30-2019, 11:27 PM
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I do not watch them because of the audience applause. It's clearly troubling how mindless it can get, like Castro going out of his way in support of abortion for trans women. That was applauded. It's also troubling if talking over others may be incentivized.
In fairness, it was fairly obvious he meant transmasculine people (i.e. trans men and nonbinary AFAB people). It was a misgendering misstep I facepalmed at, but the way he phrased it made it fairly clear what he was talking about.

Last edited by Jragon; 06-30-2019 at 11:27 PM.
  #22  
Old 07-01-2019, 12:50 AM
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In fairness, it was fairly obvious he meant transmasculine people (i.e. trans men and nonbinary AFAB people). It was a misgendering misstep I facepalmed at, but the way he phrased it made it fairly clear what he was talking about.
Well he conspicuously went out of his way to say that. If he wants to say that or even ad-lib in and get it wrong at one of his pep rallies, that's fine. On the debate stage, and he's not the only one, my point is it is harder to take it all seriously when the atmosphere is partially that of a pep rally.

I'm thinking of it from the standpoint of someone who may not have followed the event and this was one of the only sound bytes they heard. I'm not necessarily against throwing a bone to a tiny minority on that stage, hearing it like this just made me feel embarrassment.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:01 AM
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These aren't debates; they're personality tests. They're contests to see which candidate can survive the toxic environment of modern American politics while occasionally make coherent arguments and saying things that people actually identify with.

What might be even more interesting is to see what candidates actually know about specific issues. Hell, turn the damn thing into a game show -- Presidential Jeopardy with Alex Trebek moderating. Have the candidates answer specific questions about a range of topics. Have them compete with buzzers. Have a panel of experts decide how accurately they answered the questions. Give 'em points.

I wonder how many candidates would show up, lol?
  #24  
Old 07-01-2019, 07:01 AM
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I know I said something similar above, but I have flip-flopped. It gives too much power to a moderator, for one to ask a complex question to a candidate that he or she dislikes and then take an overly harsh position that the candidate is being non-responsive when actually the candidate is giving a reasonable answer.

Also, some questions are not easily answered directly. Like the question to Sanders if he would increase taxes on the middle class to pay for his Medicare-for-All program. His direct answer was yes, but the ins and outs of all that (and I'm not Bernie supporter by far) cannot be adequately explained in 60 or 120 seconds. So if what you are doing is looking for a headline the next day of "Sanders' plan will Raise YOUR TAXES!!!" then the moderator wins.

The soundbite drowns out the entire contours of the plan and leaves many details unanswered such as who is the middle class?, will the taxes be offset by savings, and how much of the total cost would the middle class pay. What would the cost/benefit of a guy making $50k a year be?

I don't think it is fair to be inordinately strict to a candidate who is attempting to put forth soundbites.
I still thing its a good idea. While you are correct it gives a lot of power to the moderator, I think that some one has to have the power. It could be improved by a 5 person moderator team and getting cut off if 3/5 decide your out of bounds. An important skill for a politician is to take important, complex ideas and boil them down to something that is understandable. Doing this without misleading is also important

Politicians making up a story and trying to give it detail and emotional beats about a parent rushing a child to the emergency room and sitting out side pondering if they can afford it is dumb and doesn't advance the case that single player is a better more affordable system. Cutting them off and repeating I asked how a single payer system is better will hopefully turn debates into policy and position discussions instead of a who can make the audience emotional.
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