Political debates: Time to shake up the format? | Street Jazz

Political debates: Time to shake up the format?

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About 45 minutes into the ABC Democratic Debate, the realization hit me that it had as much relevance to 21st Century Americans as an episode of “My Mother, the Car.”

Flag lapel pins?

The reverend Wright?

The Bosnia gaffe?

And in the pit of my stomach, I realized that even with Pennsylvania behind them, it wouldn’t be the last debate foisted off on us.

But even as that dreadful thought went through me like wildfire, came an idea for a new debate format - just bear with me on this - you might like it.

All through the early stages of the campaign, the media derided some of the candidates as “second-tier” candidates, which usually meant that their ideas couldn’t be neatly put on a bumper sticker, and thus were of no use to the press in general.

And we all know of the times when these candidates were even prevented from taking part in televised debates.

Well how about this:

The press (with a few notable exceptions) has mangled the job of handling the debates. How about a debate where none of the questions are asked by journalists, but instead, by those same “second-tier” candidates those same journalists grew so adept at ignoring.

After all, many of the issues these candidates wanted to discuss have dropped right off the radar screens since their departure from the race.

Let’s have a debate where Dennis Kucinich, Joseph Biden and the rest get to ask the questions instead of Wolf Blitzer or Charlie Gibson. Even if they only get to ask one question each, it would no doubt be a more memorable debate than what we have been subjected to.

And just imagine Ron Paul grilling John McCain.

Because this election is just too important to be left to people who wouldn’t know a real issue if it punched them in the nose.

rsdrake@nwark.com

 

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