The televised presidential debates have become more of a showcase for the news casting members of the panel that questions the candidates.
An opinionated panel member like MSNBC’s left-wing radical Rachel Maddow makes a joke out of the supposed debates.
Of course, no matter the format, there can be little of a real debate when there are a dozen candidates on the stage. And in those so-called debates some of the candidates were all but ignored by the panelists.
But for the debates between Trump and Biden, if any are forthcoming, there can be a real debate without a panel of self-serving news casters.
The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 come to mind. Republican Abe Lincoln and incumbent Democrat Stephen Douglas were competing for a seat in the Illinois senate. They held seven debates without any moderator. Each debate lasted 3 hours. The format was that the opening candidate spoke for an hour, then the other candidate spoke for an hour-and-a-half, and then the first candidate was allowed a half-hour rebuttal. The candidates alternated speaking first for the seven debates.
Now those were real debates. But they would be an ill-fit in today’s media headline conscious society. A candidate going blah blah blah for an hour would quickly lose the attention of a TV audience. And the media would only report the highlights of what their biased journalists wanted people to know.
However, we can have real debates that would captivate the voters by changing the format for the Trump-Biden shootouts, eliminating both the panel of moderators and the in-house audience of partisan supporters.
My suggestion is for a debate somewhat similar to the Lincoln-Douglas debates with only one moderator who is not affiliated with any media outlet. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would probably be the best choice for moderator.
The debate would be in two parts, with the first part lasting 2 hours during which the moderator would act only as a timekeeper buzzing the candidates with a 10-second warning that their time was up and not allowing them to go past that.
After the flip of a coin, the winner would give a 10-minute statement followed by a 5- minute rebuttal by the other candidate. Then the second candidate would give his 10-minute statement followed by a 5-minute rebuttal. They would thus give alternating statements and rebuttals until the 2-hour time limit has been reached.
The second part of the debate would consist of the moderator asking a candidate to give a 3-minute elaboration or clarification of one of his positions with with the other candidate given a 2-minute rebuttal. Then the moderator would ask the other candidate for a 3-minute elaboration or clarification of one of his positions, to be followed by a 2-minute rebuttal. The questioning would be alternated between the two candidates, with the second part of the debate not to exceed 1-hour.
The only people allowed inside the debate venue would be the TV camera crews. Then there would be none of the partisan applause and cheering so common in the previous debates.
My suggestion would result in a true debate, one that would give the American public a better picture of where each candidate stands. No showmanship by a bunch of self-serving panelists here.