Thursday, October 11, 2012
What a better presidential debate format might look like
Television Anchors’ Reign of Tyranny Over Presidential Debates Must End!
All of which is to suggest a new tack altogether: replacing the journalists with real experts on the issues supposedly under debate. Not just anyone, but our most respected professionals who have devoted their lives to thinking about our social problems, our political system, and our relations with the rest of the world. They would bring to their task a deeper knowledge than the journalists possess; they would be more likely to avoid the familiar and unproductive topics du jour; they could press the candidates, not in the annoying faux-prosecutorial style of the Sunday TV hosts, but in a probing, professorial manner designed to draw out details and fresh thinking. The possibilities are endless. A domestic-policy debate panel could include experts on health care policy, education, crime, constitutional law, and welfare policy. A foreign-policy panel might contain regional experts on the Middle East or China, scholars of nuclear non-proliferation and genocide and human rights. Other panels might include political theorists, economists, sociologists, scientists, medical researchers—and, for that matter, novelists, artists, composers, playwrights, filmmakers, and poets.
Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org