How Does One Run A Debate?

Originally posted at on January 28, 2012

The question of how to run a debate seems simple enough, but as everyone knows, the debates have gotten more and more controlled by the two dominant parties.

I felt it was necessary to remove all the funny business and get down to real business. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple discussion?

In the spirit of that simplicity, I wrote the following rules of conduct for our debates:

Guidelines for Presidential Debates

  1. Answer the question and stay focused on that answer.
  2. Do not mention your website during your answer.
  3. Do not compare your platform with any other candidate’s platform unless specifically asked to do so.
  4. Refrain from disparaging comments about incumbents or “mainstream” candidates. Remember to talk about ISSUES or POLICY, not politicians.

I hold a great deal of respect for the League of Women Voters. In 1976, 1980, and 1984 they hosted the presidential debates, but in 1987 they had had enough. The LWV pulled their sponsorship, protesting the major parties’ attempt to control almost every detail of how the debates were conducted. They issued the following powerful statement in 1988:

The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates…because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.

By now, the electorate is savvy to these practices, and I believe they are fed up. I look forward to our debates on Monday February 13th at 10:00 am, because they will be a refreshing change from the scripted farce we’re used to seeing on television.

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