Ron Lazof: Make presidential debates bipartisan |

Ron Lazof: Make presidential debates bipartisan

Here is a radical idea for the 2020 Presidential Debates, how about if we make them both bipartisan and helpful to the voters tasked with deciding on whom to cast their vote? My proposal is as follows:

There will be four debates, each one-and-half hour long, on four evenings across four months. Each debate shall have a general topic: The economy; social and civic policy; foreign policy; and candidate’s choice — open forum. Each debate will be offered to every channel or media outlet without charge for broadcast. 

There will be one moderator/timekeeper for each debate and each candidate will get to select two of them for alternate debates. This will not be showplace for the moderators, and they will not be tasked with audience control nor have latitude in the questions asked or follow-ups; however, they will have microphone control to enforce timekeeping on the candidates. Although audiences will be permitted, and the candidates will be in a visible place, they will be in a sound-proofed studio so they will be isolated from audience reaction or participation. 

No coaching of any kind or in any manner will be permitted during the debate. Candidates will alternate in answering each question. A coin flip will determine which candidate will receive the first question in the first debate, after that they will alternate and the other candidate will get to speak last, if they have saved time for a summary. 

Each question will be asked in a format requiring a “yes” or “no” answer, — therefore questions must not be compound or complex — and be asked to each candidate in exactly the same format. Time will limit the number of questions and answers to 25 on each evening.

Each answer must start with either a “yes” or “no” answer. The candidate will then have the balance of 90 seconds of airtime to explain, modify, walk back, soften or “maybe” if they wish. All time not used in explanations will be accumulated and held for that candidate to make a final closing statement at the end of the debate.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to focus on policy alternatives and commitments made by candidates to which they can be held accountable instead of personalities, name calling and gotchas?

Thank you,

Ron Lazof
Steamboat Springs

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