We all know how presidential debates are handled in our current, corrupt, unfair, undemocratic, rigged electoral system. The elites select who is allowed and not allowed to debate based on near impossible standards. Then two people stand and bloviate about whatever they want, lie as much as they like, and avoid key issues, while a highly biased debate moderator is much tougher on one of them and refuses to enforce the rules.

How would presidential debates look in a fair, democratic, principled, organized, transparent system? They’d look something like this…

Who Would Be Allowed

First off, anyone who achieved at least 3% in presidential polls would be allowed in the debate. Precisely which polls would have to be identified, but it would be a lot of them, not just the top five the elites liked the most. Today in the US, you must have 15% in the polls or you’re not allowed in the debate. This is, of course, insane. In the 90s, Ross Perot (the last man who had the ability to turn things around in the US, by the way) was only polling at 7% before the debates, yet during the election he got 19% of the popular vote(!).

Anyone from any political party, or even no political party, would be allowed in the presidential debates as long as they showed polling at 3% or more. The populace deserves to see all points of view represented, rather than just left leaning corporatism or right leaning corporatism.

The Debate Staff

Currently, a presidential debate involves the two candidates and a moderator. That’s it.

Under this new system, a debate would have the candidates (often more than two), a moderator, one or more back up moderators, and several fact checkers.

The moderator’s job would be to ask the questions, enforce the rules of the debate, and defer to the fact checkers when needed. He (or she) would have no other role or function. If the moderator screws up by doing something like:

– Failing to enforce the rules of the debate

– Letting the candidates bully him

– Correcting or fact checking the candidates in any way whatsoever

– Showing any bias whatsoever

Then he would be immediately removed and replaced with the back up moderator. This would happen right then and there, right in the middle of the debate. If the back up moderator screwed up, he/she would be replaced by yet another back up moderator. So you could have several back up moderators prepped and ready before the debate.

Everyone would learn very quickly that the moderator must be a tough and unbiased person. Failing any of this, he or she would be kicked off the stage.

No one is completely unbiased of course, so you could have political variance in the backup moderator pool. If a moderator is a left wing progressive, the back up moderator could be a right wing conservative. The one behind him could be a libertarian, and so on. The moderator to go first would be determined by a coin toss or something similar.

Even if replaced, the questions for the debate would not change, and would be predetermined, hard on all candidates, and equally distributed.

Sitting to the side of the stage would be the expert fact checkers, using computers. There would be one fact checker for each candidate, and each candidate could choose their fact checker to fact check the other candidate. Any time a candidate stated a fact, once he/she was done answering the question, the moderator would look to his left and say, “Fact checker?”

The fact checker from the opposing side would than instantly look up what the candidate said, and state three things:

1. Whether or not the candidate spoke the truth.

2. The correct fact if the candidate did not.

3. The source used.

Most importantly, the moderator would only call on the fact checker of the opposite political persuasion. That means that Republican candidates would be always be fact checked by a Democrat fact checker, and vice versa. If a different left-wing candidate was being fact checked, like a Green Party candidate, they too would be fact checked by their “opposite,” such as a Republican or other right-wing party. Parties or affiliations with no opposite, like libertarians, could have their fact checkers determined by a coin toss or something similar.

Any time a candidate was caught lying or being factually incorrect, a scoreboard would light up and increment, showing the number of times that candidate was either lying or an idiot.

Could the fact checkers be wrong? Of course. No system is perfect. Could the fact checkers use shitty sources? Sure, but as stated above, they’d have to state their source, so people could make up their minds about it.

This way, every candidate would know that they would be constantly fact checked, in real time, by people who were against them. It would be almost impossible to mislead the audience with lies and bullshit.

There would be several debates, separated by topic, just like now. One debate on foreign policy, another debate on the economy, etc. However, most of the debates would be about issues only. No candidate could bring up the history of any other candidate for any reason. If they did, they would get one warning, and then be kicked off the stage right then and there if they persisted.

One debate would be dedicated to the personal records of the candidates. During this one debate, candidates could rip each other apart about their personal histories, both professional and personal, and go as ad hominem as they liked. And of course, the fact checkers would correct any lies or inaccuracies as best they could. The point is only one debate would be like this. All the rest would focus 100% on policy where personal attacks and observations would not be allowed.

There are all kinds of flaws with this system, but it would be far less bad than the current horrible presidential debate system we all are abused by today.

7 thoughts on “How To Have Effective Presidential Debates

  1. I would like something more along the lines of the Lincoln-Douglas debate format (candidates address each other, no moderator guides the line of discussion, each candidate politely allows the other to speak for a given amount of time before rebutting with a given amount of time) but with the following modifications:
    There would be a moderator and many fact checkers which would announce the fact check at the end of a candidates speaking time and before the other candidate rebutted.

    Two rules:
    1. You cannot interrupt the other candidate’s speaking time.
    2. You cannot speak factual mistruths (determined by consensus of fact checkers).
    (If less than 2/3 of the fact checkers felt the candidate was untruthful, the fact check would be announced as such with each case made for truth/untruth. If more than 2/3 agreed then the candidate will be in violation of Rule #2)

    The moderator, upon determining that a candidate violated a rule, would hit a button that would cause the floor under the candidate to open and drop the candidate into a tub of soupy pig shit, where he/she would be allowed to continue the debate if able to speak.

    Upon the second rule violation the candidate would be removed from the stage and the other candidate would be allowed to complete his/her speaking time to say whatever they wanted.

    Sadly, in today’s political landscape, the public would see just about every politician in every debate covered in shit by the end. At least it would reflect reality more accurately than what we have now.

  2. @Kurt

    Put them in a glass box, that way if it was determined they lied, then the glass box is simply lifted up and moved out of the way. No security, no chance of a scuffle, no drama, just a big crane that picks up the lying candidate and moves that person behind the stage. He is then released and is free to go (just not back on the stage.)

  3. Yeah Kurt, I like your system to but there’s no way in hell it would work in today’s political culture. Candidates today must be corralled like mad dogs or else any debate would be a cluster fuck. Albeit an entertaining one, but as I said above, entertainment should not be the reason you have a presidential debate.

  4. Really? You think they would have so little self-control as to choose being dumped in shit before 100 million viewers on live television than just not interrupting each other and not telling outright lies?

    I thought I was cynical…

  5. I agree with the idea that candidates should choose a given fixed numbers of fact checkers (possibly more than one) and that everything should be continuously fact checked by all fact checkers in real time, with a report on all fact checks at the end of each intervention and a real time counter of how many wromg facts were pronounced by each candidates.

    On top of that, the whole debate fact checking and sources validity cross checking should be analysed in depth with an in depth report a few days after the debates.

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