- November 30th, 2007
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Returning to a point I made in an earlier post, regarding the way our Presidential Debates are skewed towards candidates deemed by the media to be more worthy than the others. When a candidate announces their official intent to run for office, and the field of hopefuls is generated, who ranks those individuals? Certainly not the voting public, simply because the voting public has yet to be exposed at length to each candidate. Unfortunately, even through the primary elections, most voters will never be afforded a mainstream opportunity to examine each candidate. How can that be? Well, as individuals officially become candidates, the political pundits of the media world take their picks and make it easy for the public to decide their votes. Here are the top four, according to us they are more warranted candidates than the rest of the field, who we will not be introducing to you anytime soon.
It is rather illogical to think that at the start of campaigning, any candidate has an advantage over another candidate, unless already the incumbent (though that may be a disadvantage at times.) That, however, is not how candidates are presented to the voting public. Before the first debate is even scheduled, the public has been provided with a top four on both sides, typically casting aside at least four more candidates per party, candidates that may well be exactly what the country needs. Unfortunately, most of the country will never have the opportunity to make that determination for themselves.
During the CNN/YouTube Republican Debate, I decided to take some notes a few statistics of my own. Given that I’m a little preoccupied with a crazy little thing called war, I might have missed a question or two, but here’s what I found to be true.
- Front runners may exceed clearly set time limits at length, and do so without penalty
- Front runners may interrupt at any time
- Few questions on serious issues are posed to those not considered to be front runners
- If a question is posed to someone outside the field of front runners, it is passed also to the front runners, but not to other outsiders
- Few questions are passed from front runner to outsider
For a quick tally, at least ten questions were asked directly to a front runner, and then passed on to the remaining front runners. By contrast, less than five (three by my count) questions were directed to a front runner, and then passed to an outsider. Two questions were asked to the entire field, but only one was allowed to make it through each candidate before being cut off for a new question. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) was directly asked three questions during the course of the debate, and was passed three more from questions asked to other candidates. Again, each of the front runners were asked at least five direct questions, often not to be passed on for input from the remainder of the field.
Does the above strike anyone as fair, or even productive? Is not the intent of the Presidential Debate to provide a structured platform from which candidates are allowed to explain, in detail, their positions on issues the nation feels to be crucial to the continuation of our country? How then, can anyone justify the vast imbalance in each debate? Fitting these debates into slotted blocks of airtime is severely limiting, as it detracts from the quality of the debate by quelling open discussion. Perhaps a better structure would involve national polling to determine major issues, and a collection of questions on the top ten issues. For those issues, direct one question per candidate allowing for a three minute answer. If you can’t get your basic answer across in three minutes, you probably don’t have an answer in the first place. Continue to allow candidates to respond if specifically mentioned, but enforce the time limit of that response. Of course, this day in age the only way to enforce that probably involves putting each candidate in a soundproof box and muting his or her microphone when the time has expired. The bottom line is that each debate really needs to have at least one group question per issue, questions each candidate are allowed to answer uninterrupted. If it takes two hours to ask the full field of candidates a singe question on five issues, so be it. Considering the resulting votes will shape the future of our nation, the importance of a fair and balanced debate far outweighs the cost for airtime.