I’m not sure that anyone, at any point of the political spectrum would consider what our nation witnessed last night under the name of “debate” to be an example of scintillating civic discourse. No one has asked me how to run our national political campaigns, so I thought I’d just present my idea of an interesting debate unasked for. My goals are that it promote real discourse, and that it provide enough entertainment value that people will be likely to watch.
The debate is to be conducted before an audience, with security to escort out anyone who becomes too disruptive. The seating should be in the round, so we can invoke gladiatorial archetypes as we watch the candidates spar.
Each round lasts fifteen minutes. Eight rounds total for a running time of two hours. The format for each round is as follows:
The candidate leading this round opens with a three minute statement on a topic of his choice. This opponent then has three minutes to respond. There are then nine minutes of back-and-forth.
The candidates alternate leading rounds, so each will want to have 8-10 topics prepared that he can select from based on what comes up in the rounds his opponent leads.
Each candidate is issued with a microphone and a remote buzzer/switch, both wireless so they can move around the room. At the beginning of each round, each candidate gets 7.5 minutes loaded on his clock. When he’s talking, his clock counts down. When he’s done, he hits an “off” button which switches off his mic and stops his clock, starting the other candidates clock and turning on his mic.
During the two initial three minutes stretches, the candidate who is “on” has the floor until he hits his “off” button. If he has time left at the end of his initial presentation, he keeps that time for the back-and-forth period.
During the back-and-forth either candidate can hit his “talk” button which sounds a buzzer, turns his opponent’s mic off, and starts his own clock. If one candidate runs out of time on bank, he is “off” for the rest of the round while his opponent gets the last word. If both candidates hit the “off” twice during back-and-forth they end the round and the remaining minutes go into an “overtime” bank which will be available at the end of the debate.
Sound like fun?