Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Everybody Knows: The Debate System is Broken

No need to run a poll for this claim: last night's presidential debate was boring. Even more boring than the VP debate, and even more boring than the first presidential debate.

I am outraged. (Yes, it should come as no surprise that someone named "Edgy the Anticlown" is subject to the full spectrum of human emotion, and more.)

There was no reason for this debate to be so boring. It was a "town hall" setting, and candidates had the opportunity (in principle) to interact with real, live voters. Whatever you may think about the way Brokaw moderated the debate, he did try to ask some pointed questions. (Although those questions were full of silly false dilemmas: "Do you think Russia is more like a giraffe or a pumpkin?")

I am outraged that the political system has come to the point where it is to both candidates' advantage to avoid answering any questions or giving any specific statements, because they are afraid anything they say will be used against them.

We are electing one of the most powerful positions in the world. Yet the two top candidates refuse to communicate directly with each other, except to utter repetitive talking points and bland platitudes. Sometimes, they entirely ignore the questions posed to them. Meanwhile, their campaign operatives (and related groups) snipe at each other in television commercials and on the internet.

Fact is, it is very likely I will be voting in November for a candidate that I have never heard answer a single question with candor and real, specific, detailed information. The whole system is stacked to discourage candidates from giving such answers.

Perhaps it's time to shake things up a bit by allowing some third-party candidates to participate in these debates. You can see why the major parties don't want this; candid, sincere answers from one person on that stage would force everyone else to come back to the sanity fold.

Then again, a good case could be made that sanity is not a trait we value in our elected officials.