It may not seem like it, but the 2020 Presidential Election is more than a year away.
More than enough time for all of us to spend more time fishing, going on vacation, seeing a movie – pretty much anything else other than thinking about an election!
Alas, such is the nature of our politics today that the day after every election becomes the start of the next election.
It used to be conventional wisdom that nobody paid attention to what was going on in an election until after Labor Day.
But, like most things that used to be a certain way the times have changed and with them our media’s never-ending fascination with all thing politics.
Such is the case with the all-consuming debate coverage taking place as Democrats running for President jostle their way onto a stage in which there are so many candidates that there isn’t enough time for any of them to substantively address issues they want to raise.
In order to get on that stage candidates are forced into a game in which they must prove they “deserve” a spot on the platform by “earning” it with proving they have secured financial support from tens of thousands of individual “unique” donors.
Billionaire candidate Tom Steyer who could, if he chooses to, self-fund his entire campaign even found himself pleading for people to donate money to him to get on that stage.
I suppose there is no perfect process for the party given the fact that there are currently 19 candidates who feel they have the chops to be the Democratic nominee to challenge President Trump in election that will be held over 400 days from now.
To be candid, I’m less interested in their process of choosing candidates than I am in how we choose our next President.
Specifically, I am more interested in the debate system that we use in this country to give our candidates for President the opportunity to share their vision, ideas and policies that will comprise the direction of their Administration should they be elected.
Watching any portion of the Democratic Debates one cannot feel for those candidates whether you agree with their ideas or not.
They are put in the position of attacking one another on issues in which they have virtually no differences in opinion – and on matters of policy they are separated mostly by differences of approach.
As more than one person I have heard describe them, the debates have become politics version of “The Hunger Games” — hardly a positive process to select the candidate for President of any political party.
Debate “moderators” have as much to win – or lose – in their performance as the candidates themselves.
Far too often they deliberately set-up a confrontation between candidates with baiting questions such as “So, Candidate X your opponent, Candidate Y, says you don’t know what you’re talking about. What is your reaction to that attack?”
Then, Candidate X and Y spend 10 minutes going back and forth accusing one another of saying bad things about the other while the rest of the candidates jump up and down on stage — desperate to get a word in edge wise.
When the debate is done the “analysts” then pick the winners based on who seemed to be livelier in their defense of themselves – or the attack on another – and, of course, who had the best one-liner of the night.
This is no way to pick a candidate for President!
Which is why I propose a different approach to our Presidential Debates once each party officially nominates their candidate for President.
Rather than have media personalities “moderate” these debates I believe we should have President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama serve as Moderators for the next Presidential Debates.
After all, who knows more about what it takes to become President – and to be President – than our two most recent former Presidents?
And, shouldn’t we really want a debate about the issues rather than the personalities of our candidates for President?
Imagine a debate in which two former Presidents can frame the questions and challenge each candidate about their answers, policies and approaches to governance.
Instead of allowing for canned answers and clever one-liners the candidates would be confronted by two former Presidents who know the difference between the rhetoric or reality.
What does Rush Limbaugh or Anderson Cooper or Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow know about being President?
Other than what they imagine the role of President is or what the President does each day none of those media folks, or others who will be chosen to moderate future debates, has any clue of what it takes to be the President of the United States of America.
We are fortunate to have two former Presidents – one of each party – who can bring their own experiences to the debate.
Let them formulate the rules and the questions.
Don’t let the media or parties define the rules and regulations of the debates.
Let those who have done the job before be the ones that come up with the rules for how the debates will be moderated and let the press and the parties accept their decision.
If we believe in the power and importance of our democratic process, including the process that leads up to how we select our President, let’s have the most qualified people in America be the ones asking the candidates the questions.
Now that’s a debate worth having in this country!